TAM studies regional aircraft order: report

Washington DC
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

Brazil's TAM is looking at a possible purchase of regional aircraft from ATR or Embraer, says a Brazilian news report.

Quoting TAM's chief executive Claudia Sender, the 30 September report in Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo says TAM could operate the aircraft on shorter routes as the Brazilian government rolls out incentives for regional aviation in the country.

Sender was quoted as saying that the airline is in talks with Embraer, but the two parties still needed to work out details. An Embraer spokesperson contacted by Flightglobal says the airframer could not comment on potential customers. A spokesperson from LATAM, which TAM is a subsidiary of, confirmed Sender's comments in the news report but could not provide additional details.

Earlier this year, Brazil's government approved a plan to invest billions of dollars in the country's regional airports, involving the investment of $3.5 billion to build or improve 270 airports. While no details of the incentive plan have been made public, a source at Brazil's Civil Aviation Secretary says that "after investing heavily in creating the infrastructure, we are aware that we will have to do something to incentivise airlines to fly to all these current and new regional destinations". Most airports will be operated by local or regional entities although state-owned airport operator Infraero is setting up a special unit to support these airports either as advisors or operators.

TAM began as a regional carrier when it was created in the 1970s, operating to São Paulo, Paraná and Mato Grosso. But after the removal of regulatory barriers for nationwide services in the 1990s, TAM abandoned secondary routes to focus on highly competitive trunk routes. In 2009 it acquired regional airline Pantanal, but at that point TAM was more interested in Pantanal's Sao Paulo Congonhas downtown airport slots than in keeping Pantanal's ATR turboprops flying to regional destinations across the Sao Paulo state.

TAM now operates Airbus and Boeing jet aircraft.

Additional reporting by Rainer Uphoff