Azul Airlines began on October 9, to sell tickets to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in the United States, from the Viracopos airport in Campinas. The company launches its international operation with a promotional price of RS$1,500 (USD650.00) for a round trip ticket. The value is less than most airlines flights to the destinations in December when Azul started the international operations.
The first Azul’s flight started on 1 December to Fort Lauderdale, about 40 miles from Miami, Florida. The routes to Orlando began on Dec 15th. Azul will have a daily flight to each destination and add extra flights during January and February, the high season in the tourism market. In mid-2015, the company plans to start flying to New York. The founder of Azul, David Neeleman, said the company’s proposal is to offer affordable prices for flights to the United States. “Let’s pull the market price down. I think the competition will lower the price to the same level as ours,” he said.
On international flights, Azul will use seven Airbus A330 aircraft, with about 270 seats. The company has received two of them and will receive another three during the month December. According to Neeleman, the company can use the plane for some domestic flights in the interval of an international flight and another.
Today, Azul’s domestic flights are operated by Embraer jets with up to 120 seats, and ATR turboprops with 70 seats. Jet Blue’s Airbuses are pre owned and will be renovated. As of February 2015, two aircrafts of the company stop for a month to go through renovations, which will cost $ 6 million per plane. “We will take all the seats out and put everything new,” said Neeleman.
In the new configuration, the Azul’s Airbuses will have 20 seats in business class and offer a setting called “Sky couch” in the central rows of economy class. The “Sky couch” – sofa in the sky – , has the option to raise the footrest of the four middle row of seats and turn them into a kind of sofa, allowing passengers to travel lying on the seat. “A couple and two children can travel all lying. I think this is even better than first class” compared Neeleman.
From 2017, the company will start receiving the five A350-900 aircraft with approximately 330 seats, which were commissioned this year and will be used to expand the international operations of the company. Besides Azul, Gol Arlines and American Airlines also fly from Viracopos to Miami.