Brazil plans a 2015 auction for the rights to build and operate a new airport to ease travel congestion in the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan region.

The civil aviation authority approved construction of the facility in Portao, which would serve the 4.2 million people in the greater Porto Alegre area, Aviation Minister Wellington Moreira Franco said today. Brazil will sell the concession there and the right to run the city’s existing Salgado Filho terminal.

“The Porto Alegre airport is beginning to be stressed,” Franco said in a telephone interview. “In our evaluation, the proposal for a second airport is viable.”

Since 2012, Brazil has privatized five airports once run by state-owned operator Infraero. The civil aviation authority said it will seek to attract a group of international and domestic companies similar to those that took over airports in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte.

Salgado Filho International Airport has a capacity of 15.3 million passengers a year and serves the capital city of Brazil’s southernmost state. It handles flights from nine airlines including Aerolineas Argentinas SA, Tam and Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras SA.

The proposal from Rio Grande do Sul state will be submitted to Brazil’s technical agencies for further evaluation before auction terms can be published, Franco said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Edgerton in Brasilia at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giulia Camillo at Molly Schuetz, Ed Dufner.

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Photo Credit: Looking at the Porto Alegre Airport from inside an aircraft. Nick Nguyen / Flickr