Azul CEO: 2010 passenger traffic to increase 50%


SAO PAULO – Brazilian low-cost, low-fare airline Azul Linhas Aereas SA will transport 50% more passengers in 2010 than in the current year, continuing its swift expansion, Chief Executive David Neeleman said Thursday.

“We will continue to grow significantly faster than the overall market next year,” he said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Sao Paulo.

Neeleman, who was the founder of JetBlue airlines in the United States, predicted the Brazilian airline market will expand 10% to 15% in 2010, returning to pre-economic crisis growth.

Neeleman founded Brazilian airline Azul in 2008.

Neeleman said Azul will add three new destinations in 2010 to its current domestic network of 16 cities.

Neeleman said the company maintains fleet expansion plans. It will add seven new Embraer (ERJ, EMBR3.BR) jets next year to its existing fleet of 14.

“But we could still expand much faster than that,” he added.

Neeleman said the company now has all the funds it needs for the purchase of the new jets after recently raising $35 million.

He said his company’s in “no hurry” to go public. It is currently privately held. He said it has no plans to add international routes.