By Carole Shifrin, Contributing Editor
Pantanal Linhas Aéreas, the small regional carrier purchased late last year by Brazil’s largest airline, TAM Airlines, is sharply expanding its route network and adding three Airbus A320-family aircraft to supplement its fleet of five ATR 42 turboprops.
Starting August 23, Pantanal will expand the number of cities it serves from six to 15 and the number of weekly flights it operates from 220 to 379.
Pantanal’s expansion includes 21 new flights from São Paulo’s downtown Congonhas Airport, TAM Airlines’ popular domestic hub, to eight mid-density cities using Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft; 21 new flights from São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, TAM’s largest international hub, using the 45-seat ATR42s, and two new flights from Brazil’s capital Brasília, also using Airbus aircraft.
“The objective is to offer Pantanal’s clients increasingly better services, with more destinations and greater convenience,” says TAM CEO Libano Barroso. With the entry of TAM into the Star Alliance, he notes, Pantanal’s passengers can fly from cities like Bauru into Guarulhos and connect to cities around the world, on a single ticket, checking in their baggage only once.
The three Airbus aircraft – two 144-seat A319s and one 174-seat A320 – have been leased by TAM Linhas Aéreas to Pantanal for six months; they were aircraft being returned to lessors because their leases were about to expire, but the leases have been extended until Pantanal defines the expansion and renewal of its own fleet.
Carole Shifrin has been a Washington-based freelance writer for ten years. Her career includes 15 years at Aviation Week & Space Technology, where she served as Dallas Bureau Chief, London Bureau Chief and Senior Transport Editor, and 13 years as a staff writer at The Washington Post. Carole is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Lauren D. Lyman Award for distinguished, career-long achievement in aviation journalism.