By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Despite the increased air transportation traffic in the twelve cities hosting the World Cup games, airline companies expect the number of passengers transported during the month-long event to retreat anywhere from 11 to 15 percent during the period, says Eduardo Sanovics, president of ABEAR (Brazilian Association of Airline Companies).
Although thousands of passengers have flown into Brazil, airline companies are not very happy. “The World Cup for the aviation segment is very bad,” says Jose Efromovich, CEO and president of Avianca Brasil.
The decrease in passengers using air transportation comes from the retraction of the number of passengers on business trips during the games. According to the CEO a great part of an airline’s clients are corporate and during the games companies are opting to conduct teleconferences through the Internet, instead of meetings face-to-face.
“With the World Cup, trips are concentrated in the host cities and for games played by the main contenders,” adds ABEAR’s Sanovics. The official says that the entity started to see a decline in business air travel already in mid-May and the number has been falling ever since. “We identified the postponement of corporate meetings and travel. This demand behavior was already expected and was taken into consideration as we planned for this atypical year,” adds Sanovics.
Efromovich says that even Brazilians who usually travel on vacation this time of year are staying close to home to watch the games. “Who wants to go to Florianopolis or Aracaju (cities not hosting games) during days when Brazil is playing?” asks the executive.
According to ABEAR an average of 470,000 passengers per day passed through the country’s main airports during the first week of the sporting event, with the busiest airports being those in cities hosting the games.
“Flights going into host [game] cities are full, but when the airplane lands it can not just wait for the game to end. Many of the planes are leaving these host cities during game days empty, with ten, twenty people on board,” says Avianca’s president.
Nonetheless, the aviation sector in Brazil has registered positive numbers in the first half of 2014. According to ABEAR data the average seat occupation in May set a record, advancing by 4.3 percent, and remains close to eighty percent for the year.
During the month the four largest airline companies in Brazil (TAM, Gol, Avianca and Azul) offered a total of 9.2 billion ASK (Available Seat Kilometers) and the Load Factor (seats occupied) was of 78.6 percent, with 6.5 million passengers being transported by air. According to the association during the first five months of 2014 the average occupancy of aircraft reached 79.5 percent, with 35 million passengers being transported within Brazil.
During the World Cup, says ABEAR, the same four largest airline companies added 16,100 flights within Brazil, making available 645,600 extra airline seats, most to those cities hosting the games. An estimated 600,000 foreign tourists have come to Brazil to watch the World Cup and nearly three million Brazilians have traveled to host cities to attend the games.