By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Representatives from the Rio-Galeão consortium, which administers Rio’s Tom Jobim International Airport, admitted it has engaged talks regarding the possibility of new investors entering the group to help pay this year’s R$930 million installment for the 25 year concession, according to local sources.
Government news agencies reported on Monday that the consortium’s president, Luiz Rocha and representatives from Changi International Airports (CIA) met with Brazil’s Finance Minister, Henrique Meirelles, in Brasilia to discuss options if one of the consortium’s partners, Odebrecht, leaves the group.
“There is always the possibility of new members. We are always in talks with them (possible investors). Changi has shares in other airports outside of Singapore and has relationships with top-tier investors. And the idea is to bring some of them to the Galeão,” Rocha said after leaving the meeting with Minister Meirelles.
With the announcement last week that Brazil’s Development Bank (BNDES) was suspending financing to companies linked to the Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal, the Bank did not approved the R$1.5 billion loan to the Rio-Galeão consortium.
In 2013, the federal government auctioned 51 percent of the concession rights to the private sector, and Changi and Odebrecht became partners in the venture. Of these 51 percent shares, the foreign administrator holds forty percent while the Brazilian construction giant has sixty percent. The other 49 percent of shares are held by government-run Infraero.
At Monday’s meeting, Changi representatives assured the Brazilian Minister that it continues committed to investing in Brazil in the long run and will help pay R$19 billion for the 25-year concession rights. The first installment payment was made last year, but this year’s, due in April, was deferred to the end of December due to the problems faced by the consortium’s Brazilian partner.
According to the Rio-Galeão official, the consortium is working on solutions to pay off the installment by the end of the year. “We are in talks with BNDES and talking to the government. We believe that we shall reach a satisfactory solution for everyone,” he said.
According to executives, the consortium plans to invest a total of R$5 billion in the airport’s infrastructure during the 25-year concession period. Rio’s Tom Jobim is the second busiest international airport in Brazil, behind only São Paulo’s Guarulhos International.
On an average day, the airport handles around 40,000 passengers and is the fourth busiest airport in South America. It is also the first airport in Brazil to accommodate the largest commercial airplane, the Airbus A-380, which made its first landing in the country at the end of August.
Since the consortium began administering the airport, the city has received major international events, such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Data shows that last year almost 17 million passengers passed through the airport and this year the volume, due to the Olympics and Paralympics Games, should be much higher.
On a single day (August 22nd), the day after the Olympic closing ceremony, more than 85,000 passengers passed through the airport’s main terminal.