WebJet starts fleet renewal

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WebJet, the Brazilian low cost airline that is being acquired by Brazil's second largest carrier Gol, has put into service its first Boeing 737-800, marking the beginning of the renewal process for all its 24 Boeing 737-300 jets.

The aircraft, a 2006 model registered PR-GTI, has until now been operated by its new corporate parent, Gol.

According to a WebJet spokesman, the aircraft has already entered into service on flights from Sao Paulo to Recife and Rio de Janeiro. During 2012 WebJet expects to substitute eight additional 737-300s with -800s. "While this is a one by one aircraft substitution plan, the increased capacity and daily productivity of the 737-800 will provide WebJet with a substantial growth in ASKs," said a source.

When Gol announced Webjet's acquisition last July, Gol CEO Constantino de Oliveira Jr. initially said that WebJet would be integrated into the Gol brand "immediately".

However, Brazil's antitrust watchdog CADE mandated in November that "any integration steps must be made in a way that they are reversible", should CADE finally deny the full integration of WebJet into Gol. During 2011 Gol's domestic market share remained at around 40% and WebJet would add more than 5% to this figure, making Gol the local market leader, ahead of TAM.

After encountering resistance from regulators, Gol decided to retain temporarily WebJet as a fully owned, yet independent operation. As it became clear that WebJet's integration into Gol would take longer than planned, Gol promoted earlier this month WebJet COO Julio Perotti to the position of CEO, substituting former CEO Fabio Gondinho, who had been at WebJet's helm under its previous ownership.