The Brazilian postal service has emerged as a potential launch customer for Embraer's proposed C-390 tactical transport aircraft.
Hélio Costa, Brazil's minister of communications, says the Empresa de Correios e Telégrafos (ECT) may launch its own cargo carrier next year to meet its domestic transport requirements.
The airline would initially operate a fleet of five aircraft, which could grow to between 20 and 25 by early next decade. The ECT is yet to select an aircraft type, but chief executive Carlos Henrique Almeida Custódio says that Embraer's C-390 tactical transport aircraft is under consideration due to its favourable payload compared with other freighters in its class.
Custódio adds that the ECT has held preliminary talks with the Brazilian manufacturer. Meanwhile communications minister Costa says that Brazil's communications and defence ministries may push for development of the C-390 to be accelerated.
Brazil's ECT is impressed by the C-390's payload capacity
The ECT believes an in-house cargo carrier could generate annual revenues of around $255 million by tapping into the growing e-commerce market. During the first half of 2007 e-commerce-related shipments generated $1.35 billion in sales for the ECT, up 49% compared with the same period last year.
The ECT's airline studies are steering it towards a joint venture with a private company, although the postal service would retain a controlling stake in the new company. It would make a final decision on aircraft selection with its joint-venture partner.
The ECT spends about $230 million annually on air transport services provided by carriers such as Beta, Skymaster and VarigLog, and has struggled to renew these annual contracts at what it considers to be reasonable prices.
Custódio says that the ECT "cannot be [held] hostage to operators", which led to the country's public accounting bureau ordering the postal service to find other solutions for its air transport needs.