23 Mar 2013

Flying Through Bumpy Weather


In Brazil, the government is always against air companies and it does everything they can do to jeopardise airlines, whether charging absurd taxes to revise a manual or charging high taxes on fuel and licenses. It’s weird as Brazilian government behaves towards airlines; it does not look at this mean of transportation as something that helps to improve the country’s economy. On the contrary, the government visualises air companies as a source of endless money and, the highest taxes and fees concerning transportation in Brazil are directed to those companies.

Brazilian agencies used to control, inspect and charge airlines
By reviewing some ludicrous regulations made by ANAC, acronym for National Civil Aviation Agency, the agency responsible for the regulation and the safety oversight of civil aviation in Brazil, I could affirm that the real purpose of this branch of the government is to skim the money off, most of what, by charging exorbitant fees for flight delays or by applying rules that are difficult of being accomplished by the companies.

Aviation in Brazil pays high prices for everything. There are so many fines to be applied in case of delays that are impossible to list all them here. However, I will bring to spot some interesting cases:

ANAC charges US$ 5.337,00* to assess a flight simulator with views to the approval and examination training and US$ 1.550,00* to do the first analyse of Manual of General Maintenance.  The INFRAERO, acronym for Airport Infrastructure, the agency responsible for administrating the main airports in Brazil, also charges high prices for taking off, arrivals, time spent on aprons, radio communication, etc. The petrol that should have a reasonable price since we have PETROBRAS, is the major reason for increasing debts on the companies.

 PETROBRAS refinery
So, I ask: why does the government charges so many high taxes on airlines? Is it necessary to charge that amount to review a manual? Have Brazilian airports structures that are worth to charge those prices? We are among world’s largest oil producers and yet, it’s cheaper to fuel an airplane in Argentina than in Brazil!! It’s absolutely incoherent!

Our airports are saturated, old; there is lack of investment in runways, in structures to receive airplanes, to “find” vacant room on the aprons and even to disembark passengers; investment in navaids (navigation aids) run at slow motion. Only half a dozen of airports have ILS (instrument landing system) – a basic aid that allows airplanes to land with precision in adverse conditions. 

Another governmental agency – ANVISA, the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency, made a point of fining GOL Airlines because inspectors of this agency realised that some of flight attendants who are selling sandwiches on board (aka BOB – buy on board), were offering the product and handling the money at same time – even the products being well packaged and the flight attendants wearing plastic gloves. This agency, supposedly, should inspect all restaurants, pubs, fast-food chains, etc. such as McDonald’s, where the person who charges you, sometimes, is the same who will take your soft drink, French fries and sandwiches - without washing its hands! But not. It is efficient only to inspect airlines.

Guarulhos is overpopulated
Brazilian media also sees aviation as a delicious dish. 
During the summer, when storms occur frequently, several media cars and trucks are seen positioned in front of the major airports with their satellite antennas point out to the skies, their personnel prepared with camcorders and reporters eagerly looking for some ‘victim’ of the chaos. They look like vultures flying over carrions or awaiting a dying animal to come to its end to snap at it as soon as it falls.

The same doesn’t occur to other means of transportation.

Congonhas - two runways, only one supports big jets
If a bus, a tube or a train delays, there are no high fines or penalties. On the contrary, it happens on a daily basis and nobody cares about it! Delay is almost part of the Brazilian culture in the cases above mentioned. Nonetheless, for aviation, it is an exception. The airline that, for some reason, delays (even if weather conditions are to blame), it will be fined in several thousands of dollars and in some cases, millions of dollars or, the airline must pay accommodation, meals, etc. to the affected passengers. Apart from taking out money of the company, it will also be headlines on TVs, newspapers, electronic media and so forth. A photo of an airplane is displayed on the covers of the issues and all Brazilians are prone to think that “that” pointed airline is not a good option to fly.

It is how things work around here.

Viracopos - one runway, one small passenger terminal
While Brazilian government does not put money to improve conditions for the airports, we see them gradually languishing day-by-day and getting overpopulated at each year that goes by. Airports in São Paulo (Guarulhos International, Viracopos International and Congonhas), in Rio de Janeiro (Galeão International and Santos Dumont), in Porto Alegre, in Recife, etc. are on the brink of having their operations ‘more’ restricted than already are today, in reason of not being able to support all necessary demand. 

As for the airlines, well..., they keep trying to survive this suffocation.


*Values extracted from: https://sistemas.anac.gov.br/gruinternet/ControladorGru?cmd=BuscarAreaInteresse

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