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Brazil plans for 70 new regional airports

Brazil's Secretary of Aviation, Wagner Bittencourt, has announced plans to build or adopt for commercial aviation use up to 70 regional airports all over the country with an investment of R$4 billion ($2 billion).

Regional aviation was a priority under the previous Brazilian government, but now the Dilma Rousseff administration has formally made regional airport infrastructure part of the strategic infrastructure plan, which the government plans to execute starting in 2013.

"Investment into [airport] terminals close to major cities and our tourism destinations will be [delegated to] private investors," says Bittencourt. Airports in more remote areas will be built with government funding, he adds.

He did not specify what share of the $2 billion budget will be picked up by private concessionaires.

All the new regional airports will be operating or be under construction by 2015 as many will require only upgrade work to existing airfield infrastructure.

Brazil's airports and ground transport infrastructure are under strong pressure from high economic growth rates over the last decade, during which passenger and cargo traffic exploded.

The strategic infrastructure improvement plan announced by Rousseff includes major investment in port, road and railway projects in addition to attracting more private investment in major airports and improving the network of regional airports from about 130 to about 200 airports that can receive commercial flights.

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