An Itapemirim Cargo 727-100F in 1999. (Photo: Aero Icarus [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)])

Abu Dhabi Sovereign Fund to Invest at Airline Start-Up in Brazil, Sources

Itapemirim Group, one of Brazil’s largest passenger bus companies, is about to start up its own airline, named “Ita,” backed by one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds. The news was announced this week by the company owner, Sidnei Piva, to Folha de São Paulo newspaper.

According to Piva, the new airline would be included in a USD $500 million investment by the fund. The money would also assist the cash-strapped, financially troubled Itapemirim Group to replace its bus fleet. The businessman refused to say whether the backing fund is ADIA (Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) or Mubadala, says Folha.

The newspaper also claims that 35 Bombardier airplanes are already in order; 15 with capacity for 80 passengers and 20 with capacity for 100 passengers. Although the aircraft models were not disclosed, Folha says the first unit is set to arrive by 2021.

With the new project, Itapemirim wants to integrate its road services, both of cargo and passengers to the air operations, “something that does not exist anywhere in the world,” claimed Piva.

The announcement was made at a business trip to the United Arab Emirates led by São Paulo state governor João Doria, which included the opening of a commercial office of São Paulo in Dubai. The head of Itapemirim Group was one of the entourage members.

Itapemirim had a brief adventure in the aviation industry during the 1990s, operating a small number of cargo 727s and Cessna Caravans. However, the project was ditched after a severe devaluation of the Brazilian Real (BRL) in 1999.

João Machado
João Machado
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