By João Machado
Azul’s New Summer Strategy: Flying Cessna Caravans to Tourist Cities
As the Southern Hemisphere approaches the summer season, airlines in Brazil look forward to the first high season since COVID-19 hit the country in March. With that, local airlines are trying to prepare for it accordingly, as domestic demand for air travel has been consistently increasing since the depression in April.
Azul will benefit from an airline acquisition it made at the beginning of this year, having announced nine new seasonal destinations to be operated by its “sub-regional” subsidiary, in a project labeled, “Verão Azul Conecta,” or “Azul Connect Summer”
The third-largest airline in Brazil will serve such cities’ airports — which come with minimal infrastructure — with a fleet of Cessna Grand Caravans belonging to Azul Conecta, the rebranded name of TwoFlex, a feeder company it bought in January. With multiple daily frequencies in the nine-seaters, Azul expects to serve some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, which up until this point lacked regular air services, aiming to market to the passengers that want to avoid a roadtrip.
From Dec. 14 to Jan. 31, 2021, Azul Conecta will serve destinations across Brazil, including Angra dos Reis, Búzios, Canela, Guarapari, Itanhaém, Jericoacoara, Paraty, Torres and Ubatuba, a feat Azul claims to be “unprecedented in the history of commercial aviation in Brazil.” Jericoacoara, however, already receives flights operated by mainline aircraft.
Airports originating these flights will be Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiroand São Paulo. During this period, up to 38 flights will be operated on these routes.
“This pioneer and innovative initiative in Brazilian aviation will allow many people to rethink on how to optimize even more their leisure trips for a weekend, holiday, vacations and also for the ‘travel office’, enjoying the home office from anywhere,”Azul Marketing Director Daniel Bicudo said in a press release. “We know these destinations are very searched by people who want to enjoy the Summer days, that’s why we launched ‘Verão Azul Conecta.’”
Even though — last week — Brazil started to face concerns about the return of expansion rates of COVID-19 in the country, with deaths increasing 60% over the figures of 14 days ago, it is still unclear whether this will affect airlines’ sales, especially because, since May — when the pandemic was still rapidly spreading nationally — demand trends have been very positive up to this point.
And although in very small numbers due to the limited capacity of the Cessna Caravans, Azul Conecta has been part of this expansion. Since its rebranding in August, the company’s turboprops have been deployed in a multitude of missions. Currently, and excluding the new, seasonal destinations, the sub-regional carrier has been serving four different states regularly.