With eight leased A320neos already in service, four directly ordered A320neos due for delivery by March, and 58 more on order from Airbus, Avianca Brasil is considering adding the larger A321neo to its fleet, airline CEO Frederico Pedreira confirmed to AIN in New York following the launch of daily São Paulo Guarulhos-New York JFK nonstop service on December 15.
While Pedreira didn’t say how Avianca Brasil might deploy A321neos, the carrier has started to build a medium- and long-haul international network encompassing four destinations: Bogota, Santiago de Chile, Miami, and New York. Avianca Brasil also operates domestic routes linking 23 Brazilian cities and has begun the process of launching Avianca Argentina to operate domestic and international routes from Buenos Aires.
Describing 2017 as fast-growing Avianca Brasil’s “craziest year in seven years” of existence because it launched three international routes during the year (to Miami, Santiago, and New York), Pedreira also said the airline “would like to add at least one more international destination next year.” While he wouldn’t reveal its identity, Pedreira confirmed that Avianca Brasil would like to serve Europe. However, despite the close cultural ties that exist between Portugal and Brazil and the fact that, like Avianca Brasil, TAP Portugal is a Star Alliance member, Portugal’s capital Lisbon “is not one of the destinations we have in mind.”
Avianca Brasil’s focus on high levels of customer service has led it to offer daytime flights in both directions between its U.S. destinations and São Paulo, dedicating two A330-200s to each route so its aircraft can overnight at Miami and New York.
It also flies an A330-200 Freighter and appears likely to add more A330-200s before it receives in 2020 the first of 10 A350-900s it ordered from Airbus, as it seeks to build what Pedreira called a “critical mass of A330s and [long-haul] destinations.” When Avianca Brasil starts receiving A350-900s, it will “then up-gauge [existing long-haul routes] with the A350 or open up new destinations not feasible with the A330” for capacity and operating-economics reasons.
At that point, added Pedreira, Avianca Brasil could begin using some A330-200s—whose range out of São Paulo’s Guarulhos Airport “is impressive” given the airport’s 2,460-foot elevation above sea level—to launch services to Europe. The carrier’s Star Alliance affiliation suggests Frankfurt, Europe’s largest Star Alliance hub, could be its first European destination, and Avianca Brasil chose to serve New York JFK rather than United’s nearby Star Alliance hub at Newark because sister carrier Avianca “was already there and it made no sense to add a new airport in New York.”
Pedreira expects Avianca Argentina to launch its first international route in April or May, serving São Paulo Guarulhos from Buenos Aires with A320-family jets. It will almost certainly operate the São Paulo flights from Ezeiza, the Argentine capital’s intercontinental airport, rather than Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Despite Aeroparque’s convenient downtown location and the fact that Avianca Brasil holds some slots there, Argentine government policy calls for Aeroparque to host domestic flights, according to Pedreira.