Brazilian Freight Carriers Merge, Doubling Capacity
The imminent merger of the freight operations of TWO Aviation and Flex Aero will create the largest express freight carrier in Brazil, Two-Flex. The new operation expects to command 60 percent of the country’s air cargo market, with 18 aircraft and 11 bases throughout the country. Flex Aero’s operations are stronger in the north of Brazil, and TWO’s in the center and south. “Now, I can go from the north of Brazil to Porto Alegre in the far south. Before, I couldn’t offer that,” said Flex Aero president Rui Aquino.
The joint venture will have 18 Cessna Grand Caravans–nine from each partner–with plans to add 12 more of the same model by year-end, along with a pair of ATR twin turboprops, raising their current combined average annual 7,500 metric tons of cargo carried to 10,000 tons. “The Grand Caravan was designed to meet FedEx’s need for a low-cost cargo plane, and our [Caravan] fleet will already be 10 percent the size of Federal Express’s,” said Aquino, noting that the aircraft is particularly well adapted to Brazil, as it can land on unpaved and short runways. “The airlines and regional carriers serve only 130 of Brazil’s more than 5,500 municipalities, and Two-Flex will be an alternative to the country’s current infrastructure problems,” he added. Two-Flex will be based at Jundai Airport in São Paulo state. “It operates 24 hours a day, and is never closed by weather,” said Aquino.
“Two solid companies are joining forces with the objective of offering clients customized and agile services, focused on small and medium aircraft,” said TWO president Anderson Davo. Neither company has any debt and Aquino said that the $30 million set aside to expand the fleet will come from the existing resources. The new company also has all the necessary permits from tax and aviation authorities, a rarity in the Brazilian market.
With Brazil’s two major domestic air carriers shrinking passenger capacity, there is a corresponding reduction in hold space where air express packages go, and fewer connecting flights, according to Aquino. “At a hub like Brasilia, at day’s end there are a lot of packages left over that didn’t get sent on to their destination,” he said. Currency transport for banks is just one activity in Brazil that depends on express freight services, as well as such critical functions as conveying auto parts so that a factory doesn’t need to shut down the assembly line.