Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big week for Azul Linhas Aereas, Brazil's newest airline

Azul Embraer 195Last Friday Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras S.A., Brazil's newest airline, took delivery of its first Embraer 195 jet aircraft. Three days later, on Dec. 15, 2008, the fledgling domestic carrier inaugurated service with flights between three cities: Campinas (Viracopos Airport), Salvador de Bahia, and Porto Alegre. Azul is the fourth airline founded by former JetBlue chairman David Neeleman.

Azul began its operations this week with a fleet of three Embraer 195 and two Embraer 190 aircraft (with 118 and 106 seats, respectively). Another three airplanes will be added next month.

According to information provided by Azul, the carrier has a total of 78 Embraer jets on order. Azul will grow in 2009 to serve 25 cities throughout Brazil with 16 aircraft. The airline will continue to receive an additional jet every month for three years to operate 36 aircraft by the end of 2011.

"Having been born in Brazil, it's so exciting to be able to start a new airline in my other home," Mr. Neeleman said. "Brazil is the second largest economy in the Americas -- and 10th in the world -- but only about 5 percent of Brazilians currently fly given the high cost of domestic travel."

"There is tremendous unsatisfied leisure demand for airline seats because fares are too high. As a result, 150 million people travel by long distance bus," he added. "And business travelers suffer circuitous routings and lack of frequency. With only 40 percent fewer seats per aircraft, we can provide more frequent and direct service in markets that our competition can't economically serve."

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