The President of ABEAR affirms that tourism will always be linked to political conceptions
Eduardo Sanovicz reviews the current state of aviation in Brazil in an interesting interview granted to DIÁRIO DO TURISMO
DIÁRIO DO TURISMO 's Presidential Interviews series features the participation of a recognized and respected protagonist inside and outside the tourism industry – Eduardo Sanovicz, president of ABEAR, university professor and possessor of a clear and substantive analytical vision. To each question he gives objective answers, where knowledge and living experience go hand in hand.
This interview was granted to the editors of DIÁRIO , the journalists Gabriel Emídio and Paulo Atzingen. We share it below:
Degree in History, Master's and Doctorate in Communication Sciences. What led you to a career as an executive in the tourism sector?
I came to Tourism through the events sector. At the end of the 70s, at university, I started to get involved in the organization of events, mainly cultural, especially music concerts. It was still the time of the dictatorship. So, the cultural activities meant a moment of resistance, of showing that we were alive, that good and new things were happening in Brazil, despite such a difficult environment.
Then I went on to hold seminars, conferences and, as a result of this work, I reached my first role directly in tourism, which was Director of Tourism of Santos, in 1993. Next year I will celebrate 30 years of this first role and it will be more than 40 years, if we count from the first organized event.
Tell us a little about your work as a teacher at USP?
At the University of São Paulo, he taught Management and Marketing in the last year of the Leisure and Tourism degree at the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Humanities. I did my master's degree in 2001, my doctorate in 2007 and I took the exam in 2008. I started teaching in August 2008. It's been practically 14 years in an activity that I really like, it forces me to study, read, review agendas and diaries. , debate with young people and be questioned all the time. It's a challenge every week, which makes me pay attention to what young people are looking at and feeling.
Tell us a bit about your experience in Barcelona, in the context of the time. Did this learning influence the decisions you made?
I went to Barcelona in 1996, I stayed for a little less than a semester and I started working in an organization called Turismo de Barcelona, which was the first organization on the planet formed by a public-private partnership. The Barcelona City Council, shortly after the Olympics, decides to close the Tourism Secretariat. On the other hand, the Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Navigation decides to close its Department of Tourism. Both create a public-private entity, with shared management in the Board of Directors and the Executive Directorate.
A esta organización se suma el Barcelona Convention Bureau y este organismo de promoción del destino se encarga de todas las políticas de promoción, marketing, apoyo al marketing y atracción de eventos en la ciudad. Trabajando allí, mi concepción de lo que es el turismo, cómo se construye la política turística pública, cómo se articula con el sector privado y sobre todo cómo se realizan las acciones de promoción y marketing, quedó completamente patas arriba.
Vuelvo de Barcelona con la cabeza cambiada y luego entro a trabajar en el Convention Bureau de São Paulo, en 1997, por invitación de Aristides Cury, que era el director ejecutivo. Ahí encuentro un campo fértil para empezar a poner en práctica estos conceptos. Los resultados fueron muy relevantes: São Paulo pasa por primera vez a Río de Janeiro y se convierte en el líder del ranking ICCA en Brasil en ese momento, entre 1998 y 1999, y participo en la implementación de acciones que siguen a la campaña de apertura de tiendas. los domingos, concebido por SPCVB incluso antes de mi llegada.
After this phase, I will preside over Anhembi, currently SPTURIS, from 2001, and there it was also possible to implement some novelties, such as the creation of the São Paulo Committee for Capture and Promotion of Events, the first participation of a São Paulo Delegation in the EIBTM of Geneva. I took over the management of the Anhembi with 1,072 employees and a huge loss, but I left it with 392 employees and a profit of a few million, in addition to the hotel works, stopped for years, resumed.
The consecration of the "tropicalization" of my apprenticeship in Barcelona took place when I took over Embratur in 2003. Our team reorients and restructures Embratur, directing its actions towards international promotion and marketing, creating the EBTs, the Promotion Offices by segment (nautical , ecotourism & adventure, etc.), we implemented programs for the distribution of decentralized funds, transferring resources to the states with objective criteria and, which I am always proud to mention: we created the business and event tourism area.
The highlight of this period is the collective construction of the Aquarela Plan between 2004 and 2005, and the creation of the Brazil Brand, which until 2018 remained a reference to sustain our image and promote actions abroad.
You has chaired and lived the day-to-day life of ABEAR for 10 years. How do you analyze the evolution of the entity you helped create?
ABEAR celebrates, in 2022, 10 years of activities in defense of the strengthening of Brazilian commercial aviation, so that the aviation sector is a protagonist in the economic and social development of the country. The balance of this period is extremely positive. I highlight the ICMS fare reduction work throughout the country, especially in the state of São Paulo, whose fare was reduced from 25% to 12%, with the creation of almost 700 new weekly flights in the state, recalling that São Paulo responds to about 40% of the national demand.
During the pandemic, we also had important examples of how aviation is essential for Brazil and ABEAR in its articulation: Brazilian airlines shipped 8,500 health professionals and 660 tons of food, Personal Protection Equipment and respirators for the combat fronts to the pandemic, at no cost. We have also repatriated 42,000 Brazilians who were unable to return to Brazil due to border closures, and we have already transported 315 million vaccines throughout the country.
ABEAR, today recognized by the Public Power for its dialogue with the government and Congress, showing the challenges that Custo Brasil imposes on airlines on a daily basis, especially the dizzying price of aviation kerosene and the rise in the dollar, since it makes more than 50% of our costs are in dollars.
We always propose new alliances with the tourism production chain, either with the state secretariats, as we are doing now with Fornatur, or participating in the G20, with other entities in the sector in defense of common agendas.
I also think it is worth mentioning that we have established ourselves as a quality source and reference in the production of technical information, with the Panorama that we publish every year and together with the Brazilian press itself, which constantly commits us to inform and elucidate issues of interest to consumers and society.
Lessons from the C-19 pandemic: what was most essential for ABEAR member airlines to withstand the drop in demand?
Right at the beginning of the pandemic, we built a panel of 41 measures divided into three large blocks. The first front was marked by internal actions in each company, such as the revision of contracts and costs, with a very important characteristic: agreements with almost all the workers' unions to guarantee job stability by reducing working hours and wages. A second front of action was marked by the alliance and dialogue with the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Civil Aeronautics Secretariat (SAC), the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), the Space Control Department Air (DECEA), Infraero, Consumer Secretariat (Senacon) and Ministry of Tourism.
Through collaborative work, it was possible to build solutions such as the rule of rescheduling air tickets at no cost to passengers, the maintenance of an essential network to keep the country connected, the parking of aircraft in aeronautical yards and the establishment of protocols in the sector. The third front was the one that made the least progress, linked to economic-financial demands. The sector did not obtain lines of credit such as those made available to foreign companies in various countries.
In 2021, QAV increased by 92% compared to 2020. And from January to May 1, 2022, it increased by almost 49%. Were the increases transferred, in their entirety, to the price of services?
The increase in the costs of these inputs always ends up being passed on to prices. These, in particular the price of airfare, are strongly impacted here in Brazil by external factors, such as the exchange rate of the dollar against the real, which indexes more than half of the costs of the sector, exerting pressure on items such as aircraft fuel (aviation kerosene – QAV), aircraft maintenance and leasing.
The QAV alone currently represents more than 40% of the cost of an airline and is also up to 40% more expensive than the world average, influenced by the price of a barrel of oil, currently pressured by the war in Ukraine, and by the Petrobras' pricing policy, which charges in dollars for an input whose national production level exceeds 90%. In 2021, the country produced 93% (or 4.1 billion of the total consumption of 4.4 billion cubic meters) of the QAV consumed and imported only 7%, according to ANP data.
Therefore, it makes no sense that the portion produced in Brazil is valued with the same criteria as the imported oil. The two elements that, in sequence, also affect the sector, are the existence only in Brazil of a regional tax on QAVs (the ICMS, which is not charged on international flights because it does not exist anywhere else) and the excessive judicialization. in the country, now stimulated by the well-known vulture portals, which have led to situations like that of a foreign company that has 15 daily flights in Brazil and more than 2,000 in the US, receiving almost 1,300 cases here and 150 there.
These are the basic reasons why we see a constant increase in prices, especially from 2017.
At what points has the Brazilian government misjudged or stopped helping the country's aviation sector?
We recognize the efforts of the government and Congress to find alternatives that minimize the crisis in the air sector, because as I mentioned earlier, since the beginning of the pandemic we have maintained a dialogue with the government to maintain an essential air network and ensure the country is connected. .
I don't think it is necessary to repeat the examples already mentioned, but it is worth mentioning that, more recently, we had the approval of MP 1,089/21, also known as the Simple Flight MP, which simplifies and reduces bureaucracy in the environment and airline business.
Also on April 11, ABEAR and airlines met with three ministers: Ciro Nogueira (Civil House), Paulo Guedes (Economy) and Marcelo Sampaio (Infrastructure) to present the current scenario of the airline sector and suggest the creation of a dialogue table to discuss solutions for cost escalation in the sector, especially aviation kerosene (QAV). The suggestion was well received by all and the debate will begin this May.
There is consensus that Brazil does not see the tourism industry as strategic for the economy to take off. Lack of vision or political will?
I consider that, as an economic activity, Tourism is always linked to the political conceptions that assume the direction of the country. It is important to remember that we lived in Brazil between 2003 and 2015, when tourism grew. In 2002, Brazil had received 3.7 million tourists, in 2014 we reached almost 6.7 million. In 2002, Brazil ranked 21st in the ICCA ranking with 69 international events held in the country and we reached 7th place in 2009 with more than 300 events held.
In 2002, 30 million airline tickets were sold in Brazil, in 2015 we reached 100 million tickets. What happened? We live in a period in which there was a political decision to work with Tourism seriously, with the construction of a strategic marketing plan, the Aquarela Plan, which involved the use of the Brazil brand throughout the planet, with public investment, participation of the private sector and a collective effort that was led by the Ministry of Tourism, by Embratur, while the private sector had organized OVC and a group of entities.
These concepts that made tourism grow no longer exist and we have gone back many years. It is about, then, facing the debate: what decisions, actions and political conceptions do we want about the economy, what economy do we want to build for Brazil and what axes do we want for that economy in the next decade. With the reincorporation of Tourism into this process, we can grow again and walk again. It is a decision that must be taken by society as a whole and one of the challenges that our society has to face without moving even one millimeter away from the democratic environment.
Why does air transport of passengers and cargo contribute to the establishment of virtuous circles of development in a country of continental dimensions?
Commercial aviation generates a set of positive impacts on various production chains, not only in the destinations it serves, but also in the segments it connects. In destinations, the arrival of passengers stimulates the generation of income and jobs in transportation, food, hotels, attractions and commerce. In the sectors that receive and send cargo, we generate gains in scale and cost reduction in extensive production chains, allowing thousands of products to be accessible to consumers.
We also promote the offer of each destination, whether natural, cultural, business or events, as the main drivers of the tourism production chain.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that our results and positive impacts are not limited only to Tourism. In the North Region, for example, only aviation can quickly and efficiently provide free transport of organs for transplants or the supply of basic supplies. Through the Asas do Bem program, which we built in collaboration with SUS and the Air Force, we transport more than 7,000 organs and tissues for transplants free of charge each year.
What is ABEAR's position with respect to dynamic air ticket pricing systems?
In 2022, we complete 20 years of tariff freedom in Brazil, instituted in mid-2002, after a period in which air tariffs were set by the former Civil Aviation Department (DAC). The defense of tariff freedom is one of ABEAR's pillars, as well as the alignment of Brazilian regulation with the best international practices, as Brazilian airlines compete with companies from all over the world.
But for this competition to be fair, it is necessary to face the Custo Brasil. Dynamic air ticket pricing systems are a natural consequence of the tariff freedom process, an improvement of this concept through the use of technology.
Or that Abear was afraid to say about the Brazilian airport system and related infrastructure?
We understand that the airport concessions promoted improvements to meet the growth in demand for air transport, especially in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic. ABEAR will always be in favor of any measure that promotes the improvement of airports, since they are an important instrument to promote the meeting between the greatest demand for air travel and guarantee the necessary infrastructure to serve passengers in the best possible way. They are also a way to encourage the development and improvement of air operations, contributing to the punctuality and regularity of flights.
What can be surmised about poor people's access to air travel?
To answer this question it is important to remember the importance of tariff freedom, which I have already mentioned. From 2002 to 2017, the number of passengers carried per year more than tripled, from 30 million to 100 million. This jump was only possible because the price of the average rate in that period was cut in half, going from around R$900 to R$400. Inflation under control and the country's basic interest rate, the Selic, in a level below two digits.
It was the time when the C class traveled for the first time by plane, to domestic destinations, filling airports across the country. I believe that this scenario can be repeated, so that in 10 years we can reach 200 million passengers. For that to happen, the country needs to face its biggest challenges: the consequences of the generalized soaring of inflation on the consumption capacity of individuals and companies.
According to the most recent data from the IBGE, the IPCA for April is the highest for that month in 26 years and the inflation accumulated in 12 months has been in double digits for eight months. The population is not able to have access to credit and there is a contingent of more than 11% of unemployed in the country. This also affects a consistent resumption of the airline industry after the worst crisis in the industry's history, triggered by the pandemic.
And, currently, we still have the Ukraine War, which puts even more pressure on the price of aviation kerosene (QAV), due to the high price of a barrel of oil.