By Carlos Graffigna, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – According to ANAC – Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (National Aviation Agency), in the first semester of 2009, the number of passengers traveling on domestic flights in Brazil increased by 6.57 percent compared to 2008 figures.
The continuing growth of the domestic airline industry has stimulated investors and over the last few months more airlines have obtained permits to begin operations while others have obtained concessions for new domestic routes.
The latest airlines entering the market are Sol Linhas Aéreas, Nordeste Aviação Regional Linhas Aéreas (Noar) and Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras. These new airlines are part of the dynamic growth of the domestic airline market in Brazil.
The most anticipated new airline was Azul. The charismatic founder of Jet Blue Airlines in the United States, David Neeleman, decided to test his skills and experience in Brazil, putting in over US$200 million in capital to start the Brazil-based company.
The inaugural flights took place in December 2008 and over the last few months the company has grown and added several new destinations, including Rio de Janeiro. New flights from Azul include a direct route from Rio to Salvador and daily direct flights to Campinas and Porto Alegre.
Rio de Janeiro has received special attention from most airlines due to a variety of new flight paths becoming available over the last few months. For example Webjet Airlines, who used to have headquarters in Jacarepaguá airport and now operate from Rio Office Park in Barra da Tijuca, recently started offering flights from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Salvador and Guarulhos.
Gol Linhas Aereas expanded their services from Rio to Belo Horizonte, Brasília and Vitória. Belo Horizonte and Brasilia are being served with new flights from both Galeão and Santos Dumont airports.
With the upcoming World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics, airlines are expected to continue introducing more options for travelers all over Brazil, and the world, to visit Rio de Janeiro.
According to ANAC, the average fare for a domestic flight in 2009 was US$181, a 26 percent drop in price from October 2008. The creation of new airlines and additional routes have had a positive impact on the market; not only has it given travelers more options, but it has also led to more affordable air fares.