Azul takes off in Brazil
Having received its first new Embraer 195 last week, David Neeleman's fourth airline, Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras, has inaugurated service between Campinas (Viracopos Airport), Salvador de Bahia, and Porto Alegre.
Azul begins operations with three E-195s and two E-190s (with 118 and 106 seats per respective model). Another three aircraft will be added next month to introduce nonstop service from Campinas to both Vitoria (Espirito Santo State) and Curitiba (Parana State) on 14 January 2009.
With a fleet 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.
Azul's Embraer 190 and 195 aircraft are outfitted with leather seats set at a 31-inch seat pitch. The first five rows of each cabin, "Espaco Azul," offer 34-inch pitch, available for an additional R$30.00 per segment (approximately $13).
Azul will bypass congested hubs and offer point-to-point service. The airline will be the first airline in Latin America to offer Live TV on individual monitors, by the end of 2009.
"Having been born in Brazil, it's so exciting to be able to start a new airline in my other home," Neeleman remarked. "Brazil is the second largest economy in the Americas -- and 10th in the world -- but only about 5% 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 travellers suffer circuitous routings and lack of frequency. With only 40% 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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