Brazil's 3rd-biggest airline, Azul Linhas Aereas, unveiled plans to add 11 wide-body jets from Airbus to start service to the United States.
Azul said it would receive 6 Airbus A330-200s in early 2015, when the airline will begin flying overseas, and 5 Airbus A350-900 jets starting in early 2017.
Together the planes are worth close to $2 billion at list prices, executives said at a news conference near Azul's hub in Campinas, outside Sao Paulo. The airline has secured leasing deals from industry financier ILFC for 8 of the planes. It is still negotiating the lease or purchase of 3 A330s.
The expansion will transform Azul, which is controlled by JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman, from a niche regional carrier into an international player directly challenging heavyweight Latam Airlines Group, which controls Brazil's No. 1 carrier, TAM Linhas Aereas (with an order of 27 A350-900).
The strategy contrasts with Brazil's No.2 airline Gol Linhas Aereas, which started domestic service with a uniform fleet of Boeing 737s and now flies those jets to the United States with a layover to refuel in the Dominican Republic.
The leasing arrangement does not directly generate a new sale for Airbus.
Azul also signed a $400 million service contract with Britain's Rolls-Royce, which makes the jet engines that power the Airbus aircraft.
Based on the article “Brazil's Azul adds Airbus jets to start U.S. flights” published in Reuters.