Charter firm ABC Táxi Aéreo considers fleet expansion

 - February 2, 2007, 8:45 AM

While last year was a positive turning point for many of Brazil’s business aviation firms, some companies have been mostly unaffected by the rolling economic crises that have tormented the nation for the past five years. One such company is Uberlândia-based ABC Táxi Aéreo, which attributes its financial stability to the fact that many of its clients come from the booming agribusiness sector.

ABC is one of the largest business aviation companies in the state of Minas Gerais, an important agricultural and industrial state in southeastern Brazil. The air charter firm was founded in 1976 by the Algar Group, a key industrial conglomerate in the state’s Minas Triangle region, which borders São Paulo and Goiás, where much of the country’s coffee and orange crops are grown.

The company has four aircraft– three Embraer EMB-121 Xingú twin turboprops, the five- to nine-passenger derivative of Embraer’s EMB-110 Bandeirante, and one Learjet 35. But according to company president Rogério Montalva, these are now flying at maximum capacity, prompting ABC to consider buying a new aircraft. “For the past year, our sales have been stable because we don’t have the aircraft to increase the number of flight hours,” Montalva told AIN.

ABC is evaluating the case for acquiring both a new jet and a turboprop. Since many of the company’s clients are agribusiness companies, it is more practical to have turboprops that can operate from rural airstrips. Many of the more remote stops on Brazil’s agricultural frontier lack the longer airstrips to accommodate jets.

The Algar group itself accounts for about 20 percent of the company’s charter bookings. Algar owns key telecommunications assets in southeastern Brazil, as well as extensive agribusiness interests. In 2003 it generated revenues of Real 1.5 billion ($559 million). The remainder of ABC’s clients come from the local agribusiness sector or from the booming industrial center located in the state capital, Belo Horizonte.

Encouraged by growing demand for business aviation in the region, ABC plans to begin selling new and used aircraft later this year.

In addition to charter services, ABC also offers technical support for aircraft. “Demand for maintenance has increased significantly over the past year,” Montalva said. Early last year the company began to maintain business jets and already has 10 operators as clients, in addition to its 70 turboprop customers. ABC is considering an expansion of its Uberlândia facility, which is now operating close to capacity.