Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras is planning to launch its first international services by early 2015 and has confirmed its first international destinations will be in the United States.
The airline (which is marketing itself as Azul Brazilian Airlines in the U.S. in preparation for its market launch there U.S.) plans to operate Airbus A330-200 widebodies to the United States from Azul’s new $1.5 billion terminal at Viracopos-Campinas International Airport, located a 50-minuted drive from downtown São Paulo.
Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras says it will announce its planned U.S. destinations later this year.
Campinas is Brazil’s largest airline hub, offering connections to 104 domestic cities, according to Azul.
Azul will operate its new long-haul routes with a fleet of 11 Airbus widebodies. The airline has agreed to lease six Airbus A330-200s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 772B engines, three of them from Los Angeles-based lessor International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), in order to develop its long-haul network to the U.S.
In addition, Azul says it has ordered five Airbus A350-900 jets, with deliveries beginning in early 2017. It appears Azul has agreed to lease the A350-900s from ILFC too, rather than ordering them directly from Airbus.
The Brazilian carrier’s fleet currently comprises 80 Embraer E-Jets (most of them Embraer 195s, though Azul also operates Embraer 190s and a single Embraer 175) and 56 ATR turboprops, most of them new ATR 72-600 regional airliners. Azul also has additional ATR and E-Jet aircraft on order.
“Azul is the one airline that truly serves all of Brazil. With 104 destinations, Azul unites the country better than any other airline, with convenient and frequent connections,” says David Neeleman, CEO and founder of Azul.
Neeleman, a serial entrepreneur who was also the founder or co-founder of North American carriers Morris Air (subsequently purchased by Southwest Airlines), WestJet and JetBlue Airways, adds, “Our customers have been asking for this and now we look forward to providing them with our superior service on international flights, just as we have been doing today on our 880 daily domestic departures.”
Concludes Neeleman: “We’re excited to share the Azul experience with new customers internationally and expand the airline’s success story beyond Brazil’s borders.”
After less than six years of operations, Azul already has flown more than 85 million passengers and changed the face of air travel in the Brazilian market since its first flight, on December 15, 2008.
Azul was built around the Brazilian-made Embraer E-Jets family, which still represents the backbone if its fleet and ‒ not coincidentally ‒ is also in service in large numbers with Neeleman’s former airline JetBlue Airways.
In five and a half years of operations, Azul has expanded to offer 880 daily flights, which represents one-third of Brazil’s daily departures. The airline now employs more than 10.000 people.