This week, the European planemaker ATR delivered three ATR 72-600 aircraft to Azul Linhas Aereas simultaneously. One of the airplanes had a special livery, with the Brazilian flag painted through the fuselage. But why did Azul receive three planes in a row?
Three in a row
As a Christmas present, Azul Linhas Aereas is set to receive three new turboprop ATR 72-600 aircraft. The registrations of these three planes are PR-AKO, PR-AKM, and PR-AKN. The first one has the Brazilian flag on its livery, as reported by local media outlet Aeroin.
On December 25, the three planes flew between Lanzarote, Spain, and Dakar, Senegal, according to reports by Radarbox.com and flightradar24.com. They will cross the Atlantic to Natal, Brazil, from the Senegalese capital. Then, they will fly to Confins International Airport, one of Azul’s hubs.
The three aircraft were supposed to go to Wings Air, an Indonesian carrier that belongs to the Lion Air group. Nonetheless, Wings Air decided not to take the planes, leaving them as white-tails. While we don’t know what kind of deal Azul got, it must have been very advantageous.
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Azul’s ATR operation
The Brazilian carrier has a very diverse fleet that goes from Cessna to Airbus A330-900 aircraft. Azul uses this diversity to maintain an unparalleled level of connectivity throughout Brazil (80% of its routes are uncontested).
Recently, Alex Malfitani, Azul’s CFO, said,
“The fleet is complex, of course, but it is a requirement for us to be able to fly all over Brazil the way we fly. Many of our destinations do not have the demand to sustain themselves even with one flight a day unless you have connectivity. And you can’t have connectivity unless you fly several types of aircraft. The beauty of this is, the bigger the aircraft, the smaller the costs per seat (the economy of scale), but also, the higher the trip cost. If you have a very big aircraft, it has a very high cost every time it takes off. And if you can’t fill that aircraft, you’re going to lose money; it doesn’t matter that the cost per seat is low if you’re wasting all those seats.”
With the reception of the new planes, Azul has a fleet of 36 ATR 72-600 aircraft. They have a capacity of 72 passengers.
Azul is currently scheduling 5,082 flights with the ATR fleet. It is still 15% below 2019 levels. The ATR fleet represented 21% of Azul’s flights in December.
How’s Azul currently doing?
The airline is currently Brazil’s leading operator. For the last year and a half, it has surpassed its local competitors, GOL and LATAM.
In 2021, Azul has carried 20.5 million passengers between January and November. The airline has had the best recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil so far. It is only 16% below its pre-pandemic numbers in terms of passengers carried. Azul has a 35.04% market share in Brazil.
What do you think of Azul’s current fleet? Have you ever been onboard one of Azul’s flights? Let us know in the comments below.