BRASILIA, Feb 29 (Reuters) - The Brazilian government plans in the first half of the year to propose to Congress an increase in the foreign ownership of local airlines, which could include a two-stage hike, Interim Aviation Minister Guilherme Ramalho told Reuters on Monday.
The government continues to discuss the percentage increase in foreign ownership, but considers the regulation change key to increase investment in local airlines, Ramalho said.
He said the opening up of capital of Infraero, the state-run company that controls most of Brazil's airports, could be in 2017 given negative market conditions at the moment.
Brazilian airlines are struggling after a sharp depreciation of the local real currency and a drop in passenger demand as the country goes through what is expected to be its worst recession in a century.
Brazil's airline market is dominated by TAM, the Brazilian flag carrier of Santiago, Chile-based Latam Airlines Group SA , Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes SA, which is part owned by U.S.-based Delta Airlines Inc., Avianca Brasil and Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras SA. (Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Chizu Nomiyama)