IATA Challenges Brazil on High Jet Fuel Costs, Seeks Change

The International Air Transport Association calls for a revision in Brazil's jet fuel pricing, criticizing the high costs as incongruent with Brazil's status as an oil-producing country.


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The Latin American Post Staff

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Leer en español: La IATA desafía a Brasil por los altos costos del combustible para aviones y busca un cambio

Concerns Raised by IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing the airline industry, has recently voiced strong concerns over jet fuel pricing in Brazil. In a candid statement, IATA urged the Brazilian government and the state-run oil giant Petrobras (PETR4.SA) to reconsider their pricing strategy, labeling the current kerosene costs in Brazil as "excessively high."

This criticism stems from IATA's observation that the local prices do not align with Brazil's position as an oil-producing nation. Fuel costs, they argue, are a significant hurdle for the aviation sector in Brazil, impacting its overall efficiency and competitiveness.

Petrobras' Pricing Strategy

As Brazil's primary oil producer and the central entity responsible for the country's refining activities, Petrobras plays a crucial role in setting these prices. The company adjusts jet fuel prices monthly, considering global oil prices and foreign exchange rates. However, IATA's head in the Americas, Peter Cerda, has pointed out that Petrobras' dominant position in the market, coupled with additional charges imposed by suppliers, has led to artificially high prices for jet fuel.

Petrobras has highlighted its recent decision to lower kerosene prices at its refineries by an average of 6% starting December 1. This reduction marks a total decrease of 19.6% in prices this year. Furthermore, Petrobras emphasized the openness of the Brazilian market to competition, noting that no legal, regulatory, or logistical barriers prevent other companies from producing or importing jet fuel.

Airlines' Grievances and Global Comparison

High fuel costs have been a longstanding grievance among local airlines. John Rodgerson, the Chief Executive of Azul (AZUL.N), stated last month that Brazil has "the most expensive fuel in the world." This claim underscores a broader concern within the industry, as jet fuel expenses constitute about 40% of the total costs for an airline in Brazil. This percentage significantly exceeds the global average of 30%, even during exceptionally high international fuel prices.

IATA has also raised the issue of heavy taxes levied on kerosene in Brazil. According to the association, these taxes are detrimental to the sector's competitiveness, putting Brazilian airlines at a disadvantage in the global market.

Economic Impact on Brazil

Brazil's aviation sector, dominated by major players such as Azul, Gol (GOLL4.SA), and Latam (LTM.SN), is crucial to Latin America's largest economy. The high cost of jet fuel affects the operational expenses of these airlines. It has broader implications for the country's economy. It impacts the cost of travel, the efficiency of logistics, and the overall attractiveness of Brazil as a destination for both tourism and business.

In light of these concerns, IATA's call for a revision in the pricing mechanism of jet fuel in Brazil is not just a sectoral issue but one of national economic significance. The association's plea to align fuel prices more closely with Brazil's status as an oil-producing country reflects a more profound need for a balanced approach that considers the interests of the aviation industry, the national economy, and global competitiveness.

Also read: Embraer Soars with Porter Airlines' $2.1 Billion Jet Order

As the dialogue between IATA, Petrobras, and the Brazilian government evolves, the outcome will have significant implications for the future of Brazil's aviation sector. A resolution that addresses the concerns of high fuel costs while maintaining a fair and competitive market could serve as a model for other countries facing similar challenges.

The ongoing discussions and negotiations will be closely watched by industry stakeholders and economists alike, as they hold the potential to reshape the dynamics of Brazil's aviation industry and its role in the global market. The ability of Brazil to respond effectively to these challenges will be a testament to its commitment to fostering a thriving, competitive, and sustainable aviation sector.

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