Three more foreign airlines could operate domestic flights in Brazil: minister

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas attends an interview with Reuters in Brasilia, Brazil January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Three more foreign airlines are in talks with the Brazilian government to start domestic flight operations in the country, Brazil’s infrastructure minister Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas told reporters on Monday.

He declined to name the companies involved. “These companies are publicly traded, there are competition issues, we cannot announce them yet”, he said.

Brazil’s Senate passed legislation on May 22 that would permanently open up Latin America’s largest air travel market after years of debate. The measure still needs to be signed by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil’s domestic air market is dominated by three main players who control over 90 percent of flights: Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes, LATAM Airlines Group and Azul SA.

Spain’s Air Europa, which was the first foreign airline to be granted a preliminary authorization to set up a domestic subsidiary in the country, is expected to launch domestic flights in late 2019, according to Freitas.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by James Dalgleish