Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol has unveiled plans to launch scheduled services to Bauru, a move which will see it step up competition against new TAM regional subsidiary Pantanal.
Gol on 18 January announced the start of ticket sales to Bauru, which will become at the beginning of next month the carrier's 50th destination. Gol will begin service to Bauru on 1 February with five Boeing 737 weekly flights from its Sao Paulo Congonhas base.
Bauru is a small city in the western part of Sao Paulo state that is only 345km (214 miles) from the city of Sao Paulo. Gol says it will offer Bauru passengers fast connections at Congonhas to all of Brazil's main business destinations including Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.
According to the Innovata database, Bauru is currently only served by small regional carrier Pantanal. Gol rival TAM late last year outbid Gol in acquiring Pantanal in an auction overseen by the court administering Pantanal's bankruptcy. TAM has said Pantanal will continue to operate independently and be used to feed TAM at its Congonhas base.
According to Innovata, Pantanal currently operates 12 ATR 42 flights into Bauru every weekday. This includes six flights from Congonhas, five from Aracatuba and one from Marilia.
Pantanal only operates on very short sectors, connecting Congonhas and six regional destinations: Aracatuba, Juiz de Fora, Presidente Prudente, Bauru, Maringa and Marilia. Of these six destinations only Presidente Prudente and Maringa are now served by Gol and none are served by TAM.
"We are launching regular operations in Bauru in the wake of our success in Presidente Prudente, a destination that handled around 50 passengers a day before Gol moved in and now generates more than 200 tickets per day," Gol CEO Constantino de Oliveira Junior says in a statement. "We expect the same Gol effect at this new destination."
Gol launched services to Presidente Prudente in late 2007. According to Innovata, Gol now operates three daily 737 flights to Presidente Prudente from its Congonhas hub while Pantanal operates three daily ATR 42 flights on a Congonhas-Marila-Presidente Prudente routing. Another Brazilian regional carrier Passaredo, also serves Presidente Prudente from Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Marilia.
Gol points out that Bauru is the biggest city in western Sao Paulo state and one of the state's leading economic centres. It has a population of about 360,000 people. Presidente Prudente, Aracatuba and Marilia are also located in the western part of Sao Paulo state.