GOL Linhas Aereas managed to have an outstanding 2019, even though they faced the grounding of their Boeing 737 MAX fleet. The carrier also faced the unplanned maintenance of the pickle fork in the Boeing 737 NG fleet. GOL finished the year with a net operating revenue of more than US$3 billion. Let’s look at the details of the story.
Amazing results, says the company
During 2019, GOL transported 36.44 million passengers. This equates to a growth of 9% in comparison with 2018 results. In fact, it said that this result was due to “strong customer demand, especially in the corporate segment, combined with our capacity discipline.”
For the 19th consecutive year, the Brazilian airline achieved the lowest unit costs in South America. Even more impressive is that this was achieved in the midst of the MAX crisis and the pickle fork issues found on some of its older-generation 737s. At the beginning of the fourth quarter in 2019, 14 aircraft underwent unplanned maintenance on pickle forks. This dragged on for three full months, finishing at the end of December. The aircraft in question then rejoined the fleet and commercial service.
Ricard Lark, GOL’s CFO, said that the airline demonstrated the consistent market value of the Boeing 737 aircraft. Currently, the airline exclusively operates Boeing 737 aircraft- which was supposed to be tricky in 2019. However, GOL weathered the storms.
Did the MAX crisis hamper GOL’s growth?
When the civil aviation authorities around the world grounded the MAX, GOL had seven of the aircraft in its fleet. It was one of the four airlines in Latin America affected by the grounding. The others being Aeromexico, Aerolíneas Argentinas, and Copa Airlines.
Despite the prolonged grounding, GOL said it had enough flexibility to serve all of its markets “with a high utilization rate of our aircraft.” Still, the airline had to sign a sale and leaseback agreement for 11 Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG) aircraft this February. Currently, the airline has 129 firm orders for the acquisition of MAX aircraft. Of these, 99 are for MAX 8 and 30 are for MAX 10.
GOL expects that the regulatory agencies will approve the return of the MAX at the beginning of the second half of 2020. Nevertheless, the airline still believes that the Boeing 737 is the best aircraft for the Brazilian market.
What can we expect for 2020?
During the final quarter of 2019, GOL added three more destinations to its regional market. It also enhanced its partnership with two regional carriers, adding 22 new destinations in Brazil.
The airline also began regular flights between Sao Paulo and Lima, weekly flights between Manaus and Orlando, and seasonal flights between Porto Alegre and Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Earlier this month, GOL announced a new codeshare with American Airlines. The flights will operate from the Brazilian carrier hubs in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and Fortaleza.
The company also signed a new codeshare agreement with Avianca Holdings, increasing the presence of both carriers in South America.
Economically, the airline expects to have a net revenue of approximately US$3.5 billion. For 2021, the airline estimates that the net revenue will reach nearly US$4 billion.
What do you think of GOL’s success so far? Let us know in the comments.