At least 10 groups interested in Brazilian airports auction -official

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 11 (Reuters) - At least 10 groups may participate in the auction of licenses to operate airports in Brazil later this week, a Brazilian official said on Monday.

Adalberto Vasconcelos, secretary for the federal privatization program, told journalists the government expects demand for all the three blocks of airport licenses that will be auctioned on Friday.

Brazil's government will auction 12 licenses to operate regional airports. The first block involves six airports in the northeastern region. The second one has two airports in the southeastern region and the third four licenses to operate airports in the center-west region.

"We expect competition for all the three blocks," Vasconcelos said. The most attractive block is in the northeastern region, for the airports in tourist destinations Recife, Maceio, Joao Pessoa, Aracaju, Campina Grande and Juazeiro do Norte, which receive around 12 million passengers a year.

Vasconcelos cited investors such as France's Vinci SA , Germany's Fraport AG and Zurich Airport.

Next week Brazil's government is expected to announce a second auction of licenses to operate airports in the southern region.

The auction is expected to include airports of the cities of Curitiba, Foz do Iguacu, Uruguaiana, Bagé, Londrina, Pelotas, Navegantes and Joinville, in the southern states of Parana, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

Vasconcelos said this auction could happen next year. (Writing by Tatiana Bautzer in Rio de Janeiro Editing by Matthew Lewis)