Brazilian Startup Itapemirim To Launch With 10 Airbus A320s

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Brazilian airline startup Ita Linhas Aereas plans to launch on March 2021 with a fleet of ten Airbus A320. According to Tiago Senna, the airlines’ CEO, it will also have three starting hubs in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia. What else do we know about this new airline? Let’s investigate further.

A320neo
Photo: Airbus

A new player in Brazil

Itapemirim Group is a bus company in Brazil, launched in 1953. Currently, it is the largest road passenger transport business in all of Latin America. It invested US$500 million to set up its new airline.

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Initially, the group was planning on acquiring a fleet of Bombardier airplanes. But now, according to Tiago Senna, there’s a letter of intent signed with leasing companies to receive ten Airbus A320.

Senna plans to grow the fleet of Ita Linhas Aereas to 50 A320 by 2022. However, those deals have not been secured as yet, according to Aviator.

Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the air industry, including the leasing companies. With many airlines returning leased planes (and some lessors repossessing them), there will be a surplus of aircraft shortly. Ita Linhas Aereas is betting on this scenario to lease its future fleet. In an interview, Senna said,

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“The choice of the A320 was purely technical. Nowadays, we have a good number of available A320 pilots in the market, and it is easy to get the appropriate training for this aircraft. Also, there’s a large amount of A320 airplanes available.”

So, what else do we know about the future airline?

Rodrigo Vilaça, Itapemirim’s CEO, has posted a few interesting posts on its Linkedin account. For instance, three days ago, he showed a model of future planes. Tiago Senna also said, a month ago, that the airline had started recruiting crews and pilots.

The origins of the airline are in 2017. But it was until 2019’s last months when a group of Itapemirim executives traveled to the EAU and obtained funds to launch the new carrier. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, “it is the ideal moment to enter the market,” said Senna.

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While the routes have not been announced, Itapemirim plans to operate from Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, Galeao International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia International Airport.

Senna is not planning to establish a legacy carrier. He says there will be no first-class in its planes. The plan is to offer a quality service, different from the other airlines in Brazil, but without impacting its costs.

Ita Linhas Aereas also has an edge because of its presence as a bus and train company in Brazil. The company operates in over 2,700 municipalities in Brazil, that is, half of the whole country. It has a well-known brand across the country, and although it is in a current financial reorganization, it has big plans for the airline. Nevertheless, Ita Linhas Aereas is entering a market with three well-established airlines: LATAM Brazil, Azul, and GOL.

Azul Airlines and TAM
The Brazilian government and its top three airlines have disagreed over whether they are to receive a bailout. Photo: Getty Images

How tough is the competition in Brazil?

According to Senna, Brazil is a market big enough to have four airline competitors. He says that the exit of Avianca Brazil in 2019 left open a space for a new carrier. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, that gap will be more significant. As we know, LATAM Brazil is in Chapter 11 reorganization, and GOL is shrinking its size by returning leased airplanes. Also, Azul and LATAM recently signed a codeshare agreement.

Nevertheless, Ita Linhas Aereas will not be a greedy airline. Instead, Tiago Senna plans to respect and collaborate with the other airlines in Brazil. There’s enough room for everybody, he repeated. “We are in a moment of crisis. We have to be thoughtful,” he said.

What do you think of Itapemirim’s plans? Are you eager to travel with them? Let us know in the comments?

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