Brazil's Azul has agreed to lease five Airbus A330-900neos from Avolon, to further expand the airline's network to the USA and Europe.

Deliveries will begin in late 2018, says the airline, which will be the first in South America to operate the A330neo.

Azul will configure the aircraft with 298 seats, comprising 34 in business class, 108 economy extra seats and 156 economy seats. The airline's current A330s have 27 fewer seats.

"We are very excited to start growing again. These new planes will play a key role in the expansion of our international markets supporting our strategy of having a modern and fuel-efficient fleet," states Azul chief executive John Rodgerson.

Azul had previously expressed interest in the A330neo, with founder David Neeleman saying that the airline required more widebodies to enable international expansion.

"We can't do it with the seven airplanes we have," he told FlightGlobal in August, referring to the seven A330s that Azul operates.

The airline's partner carrier TAP Portugal will be the launch operator of the A330neo.

Azul serves only Lisbon in Europe, and operates to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in the USA. The A330neos will allow the airline to add frequencies and explore new international destinations, it says.

Avolon and Azul have ownership links through HNA Group. The Chinese company controls Avolon and also Hainan Airlines, a 22% shareholder in Azul.

Source: Cirium Dashboard