Airlines Unraveled: Azul’s Fleet Development Plans

Azul Linhas Aereas is currently the leading airline in Brazil. It has recovered better than its regional peers, GOL and LATAM. At the moment, the airline has a fleet of 178 aircraft, including several subleased and some Cessna turboprops. Let’s investigate how is Azul’s fleet composed and how it has helped the airline bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis.

Azul Linhas Aereas
Azul expects to receive at least 138 aircraft in the next few years. Photo: Getty Images.

What airplanes does Azul have?

As reported by the Civil Aviation National Agency, Brazil airlines have recovered 44% of their pre-pandemic traffic. We’ve covered it in the article Brazil’s Aviation Recovery: Slow But Steady. Azul Linhas Aereas is currently leading the market with 9.5 million passengers and a 39.5% market share in this country.

Azul’s number one spot is due mainly to its fleet and route map. The airline operates alone on 80% of its routes, meaning it controls a heavy percentage of Brazil’s domestic market.

Fleet-wise, Azul has 178 aircraft. Nevertheless, the carrier subleases 15 planes to different companies. For instance, TAP Portugal has 11, Breeze Airways in the United States has three, and one is with the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

The Brazilian airline has a diverse fleet, unlike most Latin American carriers that opt to have a simplified fleet (under one or two OEMs at most). This allows Azul to have enormous flexibility when it comes to deploying its fleet across Brazil.

Azul has 11 Airbus widebodies, 46 narrowbodies, nine Embraer E2, 58 Embraer E1 aircraft, 39 ATRs, and 14 Cessna turboprop. The Cessnas operate with Azul Conecta, a regional and cargo branch launched last year.

According to ch-aviation, Azul’s fleet is on average 6.8 years old.

Embraer Azul E2
Azul is one of Embraer’s main clients worldwide. Photo: Embraer

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How will the Azul fleet look in the future?

Nevertheless, Azul is already planning the future of its fleet. On its financial results, Azul shed some light on its future fleet. It wrote,

“As of June 30, 2021, the Company had contractually assumed the commitment to acquire 138 aircraft, 97 directly from manufacturers and 41 from lessors.”

Nevertheless, the airline didn’t specify the exact numbers and types of aircraft it still has to receive. The ch-aviation database accounts for 73 future aircraft: 54 Embraer E2 and 19 Airbus A320neo family planes.

Last year, Azul announced the delay of 82 aircraft deliveries to 2024 and beyond. But the airline maintains the possibility of accelerating the reception of new airplanes. Azul’s management said the following during the airline’s investors call,

“We have the optionality to advance aircraft delivery forward. We will make that decision at the appropriate time. Worst case, in the next few years (regarding fleet size), we stay flat to slightly going down as leases reach their expiration date. But we have the ability to advance the delivery of next-generation aircraft if we choose to do so.”

Lilium Azul eVTOL
Azul also plans to have an eVTOL fleet in Brazil. Photo: Lilium

How’s Azul doing at the moment?

Moreover, besides the 138 aircraft Azul will receive in the next few years, there’s the Lilium deal.

Azul and Lilium announced their intention to operate up to 220 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in Brazil.

John Rodgerson, the Azul CEO, said,

“With the Lilium eVTOL we see huge opportunities to create new markets and expand our business. The Lilium jet is ideally suited for the types of regional and subregional planning that we have in Brazil. 

Have you flown with Azul? How was it? Let us know in the comments.