Sharp rise in flight operations and revenues boost sector confidence as scheduled domestic carriers cut services

After one of the leanest periods in history, Brazilian air taxi operators experienced a sharp growth in revenues and flight operations this year and many companies are predicting further increases in 2004.

The optimism from the region's air taxi operators, from single- to multi-aircraft companies, is partly attributed to Brazil's improving economy and recent route reductions among the country's scheduled domestic carriers, serving only 110 of the country's 5,600 towns.

Brazil's 423 licensed air taxi operators expect to post a combined net revenue of more than $300 million in 2003, with several expecting to register a 50% increase in flight operations during the same period. The buoyant market has prompted some operators to increase fleets and expand operations to meet growing demand.

Taxi Aéreo Marília, one of Brazil's largest charter providers operating Cessna CitationJets and Caravan turboprops, is expecting a 30% increase in business next year. The S‹o Paulo-based operator says it will have added three Cessna 208Bs to its four-strong Caravan fleet by the end of the month.

S‹o Paulo-based Líder Taxi Aéreo has signed a $70 million contract to acquire 10 Sikorsky S-76C+ helicopters earmarked for its offshore operations. The acquisition will increase Lider's offshore fleet to 37.

Fellow offshore operator Brazilian Helicopter Services (BHS) expects to post net revenues of $34.8 million for 2003. Operating 11 Sikorsky S-76A/Cs, two Eurocopter Super Puma MkIIs and a single Eurocopter HB350BA Esquilo, BHS plans to increase its operational activities by 20% next year, assisted by the launch of an emergency medical services operation. It is also considering the acquisition of fixed-wing aircraft.

Source: Flight International