By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Beginning in March 2017, airlines in Brazil will no longer be required to include baggage in plane ticket prices for passengers due to changes approved yesterday, Tuesday 13th December, by the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC, or National Civil Aviation Agency).
Currently, passengers on domestic flights are permitted one free baggage item of up to 23 kilograms, while the limit for international flights is 32 kilograms.
Yet for flights booked after March 14, 2017, passengers will be required to pay a cover fee per baggage item or have the option to travel without luggage for a cheaper ticket.
ANAC says that the new regulations, which have been in public consultation since March this year, will bring benefits to passengers. Rogério Coimbra, Secretary for Regulatory Policy of Civil Aviation, said that the new regulation will benefit consumers.
According to Coimbra, last year 41 million people travelled in Brazil without baggage, amounting to approximately 35 percent of all journeys. “Imagine how many people did not travel because of the impossibility of finding a cheap ticket,” he said.
Coimbra says that knowing in advance how much baggage passengers will bring will allow airlines to estimate the necessary hold space, while using the remaining space to transport cargo. While ANAC is unable to estimate how much the move will reduce ticket prices by, Coimbra says that he has “conviction that [the new regulation] will lower the price.”
Currently, apart from Brazil, only Mexico, China, Russia and Venezuela have a government-regulated baggage allowance. ANAC’s Air Services Monitoring superintendent Ricardo Catanat believes that the Agency’s studies, as well as the behavior of the market in the rest of the world, demonstrates that this will benefit passengers.
“ANAC can no longer say that a passenger must pay for luggage items weighing 23 kilograms,” said Catanat. “It doesn’t make sense that businesses are obliged to follow this model in the domestic and international market.”
The Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection) voiced concern in a letter to ANAC earlier this year, asserting that the reduction in ticket price is not guaranteed to be passed along to the consumer by the new regulations, and that passengers could become confused by different options at the time of purchase.
The IDEC also ensured that passengers will retain their right to material assistance, such as communication, food, transportation and lodging, in case of delay or cancellation, as per 2010 regulations.