Soccer dominated a panel of Latin America's top airline chiefs today, ahead of Brazil's hosting of the World Cup in 2014.
Some of the region's airlines are keen to operate charter flights to Brazil during the soccer tournament. "We could fly into the different stadiums in Brazil," quips InselAir chief executive Albert Kluyver.
Brazil has not approved requests for charter flights from other countries, points out Copa Airlines chief Pedro Heilbron. His counterpart at Avianca, Fabio Villegas, adds: "From an international perspective, we are waiting to see what happens."
TAM Holdings president Marco Antonio Bologna, however, believes Brazilian carriers and airports will be ready to handle the expected bump in passenger traffic during the World Cup: "We will have the necessary infrastructure in place."
As at previous CEO panels at the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum, airline consolidation and government regulation came up as topics of discussion during the panel, moderated by CNN anchor Gabriela Frias.
LATAM Airlines Group chief executive Enrique Cueto takes aim at what he views as unfair treatment of the aviation industry compared with other sectors.
"If you die in a bus crash on the highway, the compensation is worth about $50,000," says Cueto. "If you die on an aircraft, it's a million dollars."
Copa's Heilbron says it takes time to convince the region's governments of the importance of the airline industry, but jokes that it is not always worth the effort: "It takes four, five years to convince them. When you have convinced them, they change the officials!"