UPDATE 2-Brazil gov't to push for end to airline foreign ownership cap

lunes 11 de julio de 2016 16:09 GYT

(Adds decree details and Quintella comments on airport auctions)

By Leonardo Goy and Alonso Soto

BRASILIA, July 11 (Reuters) - Brazil's interim government plans to remove foreign ownership limits on domestic airlines through a presidential decree or an act of Congress this year, Transportation Minister Mauricio Quintella said on Monday.

Facing opposition from some senators, Interim President Michel Temer agreed in June to partially veto a decree allowing foreigners to own up to 100 percent of Brazilian airlines. That will leave maximum foreign ownership of airlines at 20 percent, but Quintella said the government still wants to lift the cap altogether.

"We will insist on 100 percent ... We have to think now about reopening the debate in the Senate," said Quintella from his office overlooking the two-chamber Congress in Brasilia.

Temer, a conservative who has replaced leftist President Dilma Rousseff while she faces an impeachment trial, agreed to the partial veto to prevent lawmakers from striking down the complete decree, which contained measures that paved the way for the sale of the state-run airport operator Infraero.

In his comments to Reuters, Quintella also harshly criticized the chief executive of airline Azul, Antonoaldo Neves, who voiced opposition to raising foreign ownership of domestic airliners to 100 percent in an interview with newspaper Folha de S.Paulo over the weekend.

"Azul is the only airline opposing this," Quintella said. "It is natural that he doesn't want competition, but that's not what the country wants."

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras SA, Brazil's third-largest airline, is controlled by JetBlue Airways Corp founder David Neeleman.   Continuación...