Brazil’s newest airline proves to be success
A Brazilian airline started by the founder of JetBlue is turning out to be a success. In just four short years, Azul captured 10 percent of the world’s fourth largest aviation market.
A pending merger will give it 15 percent market share and revenues of $2.1 billion. Azul’s CEO, David Neeleman, said the secret to success was thinking small – short hops to under-serviced cities in a continent sized country.
“So we have service between cities that didn’t exist. We have service to cities that didn’t have airline service. We have 43 cities that nobody else flies to but us,” Neeleman said.
He said the strategy for the airline was unique.
“83 percent of the flights in Brazil have 120 people or less on them. So we have airplanes that hold 118 people,” Neeleman said. They shunned traditional aircraft like 737′s opting instead for small Brazilian-made Embaers and ATR turbo-props that could land in airports the competition couldn’t. They also give pilots extra training in specialized flight simulators. The runway at Rio de Janeiro’s city airport, for example, is one of the shortest in the hemisphere. Without access to coveted airports in Sao Paulo city, Azul established its man hub in the wealthy agricultural heartland of Sao Paulo State. The airplanes have 118 seats, but each passenger has their own TV screen and snacks are free.
Azul’s client base is growing quickly. “This year we’re looking at 20 percent in growth, next year I think we’re looking at 10 to 15 percent,” Neeleman said. Once its merger is complete, Azul will service 100 Brazil cities.
There are no international flights on the radar yet, but Azul could be in a good position to change its mind as airports expand and the World Cup looms closer.
Copyright 2012 CNN.