ALTA: Avianca Brazil poised to move into profit

Rio de Janeiro
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With a fleet upgrade well under way, an overhaul of its backroom processes and improvements in on board service, Avianca Brazil is playing a crucial role in strengthening AviancaTACA's presence in the Brazilian market, Jose Efromovich, president of Avianca Brazil and board director of AviancaTACA, told Airline Business Daily.

The carrier's revival over the past three years should also result in it moving into profit over the next 12 months, he said. "Every year we have been improving and we may get a nice surprise this year, but if not [we will become profitable] next year."

This is a major turnaround since 2008 when the carrier, which was then called OceanAir, had a mixed fleet of 34 Boeing 737s, 757s, 767s Fokker 50 and 100s and Embraer Brasilias, and was losing money. A restructuring drive saw all but 14 Fokker 100s and all of the other types disposed of.

The carrier was rebranded as Avianca Brazil in early 2010. It also gained IATA Operational Safety Audit status and steadily began to expand its fleet. By the end of the year it will operate 12 Airbus A320 family aircraft, in addition to the Fokker 100s.

It has already taken delivery of five A318s from LAN this year with another five to arrive in 2012 and the final five entering service in 2013, said Efromovich.

The Fokker 100s will remain in service until their next heavy maintenance checks in a couple of years.

"Avianca Brazil has a solid base and is ready for the next strategic phase," said Efromovich. The timing of this is not yet decided.

For now, the carrier will consolidate its network by adding a few new routes in 2012 but mostly by increasing frequencies on existing routes.

The carrier will carry around 3.2 million passengers this year and generate a turnover of some reais 850 million ($480 million).