Interchange agreements are relatively new and have been increasingly used by commercial aircraft operators in Brazil. In response to industry requests, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency and the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry recently clarified several applicable rules. Due to their novelty, interchange agreements are not always understood in the industry. While such agreements share some similarities with interline and code-share agreements, they have important distinctions.
For the past few months, the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry has experimented with a new electronic filing system that allows parties to file documents electronically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This system is now operative for documents relating to commercial aircraft. Documents relating to private aircraft, business aircraft and helicopters are still being filed physically. The new electronic system is expected to become available to them during the second half of 2017.
In September 2016 the Brazilian Revenue Service unexpectedly promulgated a change in its treatment of Ireland, which had the potential to wreak havoc on the aircraft leasing sector for the entire country. After four weeks of considerable uncertainty, the changes – as they apply to commercial aircraft leases – were suspended. While the clarifications temporarily resolve the initial concerns regarding commercial aircraft leases, they provide no relief for other important sectors, such as the air taxi sector.
As the revision to the Aeronautical Code is taking longer than expected, the president promulgated interim legal measures earlier in 2016, including one change particularly relevant to air carriers – restrictions on foreign investment in airlines. Although ultimately vetoed, these measures still merit attention, as they are indicative of future legislation.
Brazil's airlines are facing unprecedented economic and financial pressures. With approximately 15 to 20% of their payment obligations fixed in US dollars, they have seen their operational profits drastically decline and are experiencing significant operating losses. Although no airline has sought bankruptcy protection, the risk that a major airline will do so is considerable and lessors should be aware of their rights and risks should this occur.