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Azul Ramps Up Domestic Flights, Ponders International Network Redesign
Although it never came to a complete stop, the Brazilian domestic market reduced its capacity by 90% between April and May as a result of the economic and airline industry fallout stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, airlines in Brazil have been gradually increasing their operations in the hope of having left the worst of the crisis behind, even though the advance of COVID-19 in the country is still in full motion.
With that in mind, Azul Brazilian Airlines announced its schedule for August, which represents a 290% increase in the number of flights compared to April, reaching up to 303 daily operations, a figure that still represents just 30% of the volume operated prior to the pandemic.
Eight cities throughout Brazil will once again receive flights: Vitória da Conquista, Dourados, Presidente Prudente, Campina Grande, Governador Valadares, Juiz de Fora, Ilhéus and Joinville, thus reaching 80 the total destinations served by Azul, just under 80% of its usual network. Furthermore, the airline will also strengthen operations between its hubs, increasing the frequency of its domestic flights from Campinas to Recife and Manau as well as between Porto Alegre and Curitiba.
“Next month we will reconnect important inland cities in the Brazilian states, reinforcing Azul’s regional vocation and our connectivity,” said Abhi Shah the airline’s vice president of revenue. “Air transport is essential to contribute to the recovery of the economy and to serve a country of continental dimensions such as Brazil.”
Last month, Azul and LATAM Brasil surprised industry insiders by announcing a codeshare agreement on more than 50 non-overlapping domestic routes to and from Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Porto Alegre, Campinas, Curitiba and São Paulo.
Azul is expected to announce intercontinental changes as well, as its partnership with TAP Air Portugal has fallen by the wayside after the Portuguese government bought David Neeleman’s stake in Atlantic Gateway for $62 million to completely nationalize the company. Indirectly, Azul owned a 6% stake of TAP, and that divestment will change the interests and subsequent agreements the Brazilian carrier had with its Portuguese counterpart.
“Although this was not our proposal, we are very grateful for the support of the Portuguese state through an emergency loan to TAP and we obviously accept measures to control the use of that loan,” said David Neeleman after Portuguese Minister of Infrastructure Pedro Nuno Santos made the official announcement of the nationalization.
“One thing is undeniable: David Neeleman’s entry into TAP was important for TAP,” said Santos in a press conference, replying to reports of bitter and harsh negotiations with Atlantic Gateway for the stake finally bought by Portugal.
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