The loss of revenue due to the coronavirus brought some airport tenants to court against Infraero for suspend contracts temporarily. Without billing for more than 60 days, the companies do not agree with the proposal presented by the state-owned company, which manages airports such asCongonhas (SP) and Santos Dumont (RJ). Even defeated in the first instance, they resorted to the decision to try to change the situation.
Also in March, Infraero adopted some measures to try to mitigate the economic effects caused by the pandemic. The proposal includes a 50% discount on monthly rental rates, postponement of five months of the payment of monthly fees in May and June and extension of the contractual term for the period of social isolation.
The measures, however, did not convince shopkeepers, who preferred to fight in court for their rights. They argue that the extension does not solve the problem and could worsen the cash position of companies in the post-pandemic. “When October and November arrive, the concessionaires will have to pay a rent and a half. The problem is that it is not known when the situation will normalize”, he explains the lawyer Bruno Régis, from Urbano Vitalino Advogados.
He filed a lawsuit to try to suspend his client’s contract, but the judge upheld Infraero’s appeal. “The state-owned company claims that it is necessary to share the losses so that it does not break,” says Régis, stressing that it is a state-owned company and that it could have the government’s contribution to maintain itself in such a troubled period.
Régis says that the temporary suspension is foreseen in the concession contracts in cases of force majeure, such as the pandemic now. “In other words, the concessionaire has the right to make this request, but the position of Justice has been pro-Fazenda.”
The lawyer of the National Association of Concessionaires of Brazilian Airports (Ancab), Herculano Xavier de Oliveira, says that he used the same argument in the action of temporary suspension and rebalancing of contracts. The judge understood that the companies will need to rebalance their contracts, but did not grant early guardianship. The association appealed to the Federal Regional Court (TRF) and is awaiting a decision. This action represents more than 40 dealers, says Oliveira.
One is the entrepreneur Miguel Costa, which has two establishments at Santos Dumont Airport and one in Congonhas. He pays something around R $ 68 thousand rent, but since March it has not earned anything. “In Congonhas, even the electricity has been turned off. Nothing works, the escalator is stopped and the lights are off.”
He says that some companies have decided to terminate the contract at the airport in São Paulo, as they are unable to pay the bills. O Estadão sought out some shopkeepers who did not want to identify themselves in the report. One of them, however, confirmed that he is trying to negotiate, amicably, the termination of the contract with Infraero.
In a note, the state-owned company said that it was also impacted by the crisis and that it needs to balance its revenues so that it remains a non-dependent company. Treasury (for paying employees and managing airports). He also pointed out that the proposal made was supported by about 60% of airport concessionaires, which corresponds to approximately 1,200 contracts.
Of the rest, 24% of the concessionaires resorted to the Judiciary, and 90% of decisions were favorable to Infraero. With regard to the reduction of its revenue, the company says that it still estimates the impact, since the values referring to airport tariffs have decreased just like the pace of the civil aviation sector. It also assesses the revenue figures of the airport concessionaires, of which it is a partner.
The situation of tenants at private airports is not much different. Some have tried to reduce rents in court, but have now gone into bilateral negotiations with airport concessionaires. “Negotiation has been on a case-by-case basis. Some have already achieved the benefits claimed and others are still in talks with airport administrators,” he says. Mário Portela, president of Ancab.
According to him, in this case, shopkeepers will be more successful if the federal government postpones the payment of airport grants scheduled for this year to 2021. The portions of six airports have already been extended to December by the National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac).
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