The president of Brazil's Petrobras, Jean Paul Prates, said the company will not artificially lower fuel prices with “the stroke of a pen” to help the airline industry, currently in economic crisis as highlighted by GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes’ recent Chapter 11 filing. However, the state-run oil firm is willing to engage in discussions with the local government, which is aiming to launch the Voa Brasil program, an initiative aimed at reducing airfares, and other policies to help carriers across the country, as a financial aid package.

In an interview with Estadao, Prates said lowering fuel prices even more would represent a subsidisation for the airline sector. He argued the price of kerosene dropped by nearly 41% in the last year.

In December 2023, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the Brazilian government and Petrobras to reduce “excessively high” fuel costs, which did not reflect the reality of an oil-producing country.

Reuters reported that a meeting between the government, local airlines, and Petrobras to discuss the Voa Brasil program, which was supposed to take place on Thursday, February 1, was cancelled. This program, backed by President Lula da Silva, aims to reduce airfares for citizens from less economically favoured classes, thus improving air connectivity in a country where per capita travel averages less than half-yearly trips.

Voa Brasil was delayed from 2023 to 2024, but the plan is still to put this program into motion throughout the year, local media reports. Simultaneously, the government is planning an up-to BRL6 billion Brazilian reais (USD1.2 billion) ¨financial aid package for local airlines. However, the approval of this package has also been delayed.

Brazil’s top three carriers, LATAM Airlines Brasil, GOL Linhas Aéreas, and Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras have all undergone some form of financial restructuring in the last four years. LATAM Airlines Group filed for US Chapter 11 in 2020 and successfully emerged in 2022; Azul held an out-of-court restructuring in 2023, raising about USD800 million.