Azul to get more slots at Sao Paulo Congonhas

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Brazilian low-cost carrier Azul expects to win more slots at downtown Sao Paulo Congonhas airport, says its chief executive David Neeleman.

"We plan to get a good number of slots at the downtown airport," he says today at the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit in Baltimore. Neeleman adds he is waiting for the Brazilian government to make a formal announcement on the slots that Azul will be allocated.

The carrier flies non-stop from Congonhas to only one destination, Rio de Janeiro, schedules in Innovata show. Observers have criticised that Congonhas is monopolised by TAM and Gol, and have called for more slots to be given to Azul.

While Neeleman is pleased about having more slots at Congonhas, he emphasises that Azul's key focus is still at its hub, Campinas Viracopos International airport. He points out that the airline operates 200 departures daily out of that airport, compared to only 19 when Azul first began operations in 2008.

"The potential there is enormous," says Neeleman.

Azul also expects to grow further at Sao Paulo Guarulhos next year when a new terminal opens, hopefully in time for the 2014 World Cup. Azul will operate 48 departures daily out of Guarulhos in end-2013, and Neeleman says the airport is one of the airline's most profitable. Azul gained the valuable slots at Guarulhos when it acquired Brazilian regional carrier Trip in a transaction that was closed this year.