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Brazilian start-up prepares for major expansion

Sao Paulo-based Brazilian start-up airline Nacional Transportes Aereos (NTA), which began services with a single Boeing 737 six months ago, plans to operate up to six by the end of the year.

NTA executive director Julio Rudge Perotti says the mixed scheduled/charter carrier plans to "tap into the massive market of 20 million people who travel more than 2,000km [1,200 miles] or so on bus trips to the north, central and west of Brazil on journeys that sometimes take 70 hours or more."

The airline is taking a "low profile" approach to its initial marketing campaign, and says it is benefiting from the publicity and spin-off business generated by fellow start-up GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes. NTA began services on 26 December, while GOL started with leased 737-700s in a blaze of publicity on 15 January this year. Ironically, GOL is owned by operators of the biggest bus companies in the country.

Perotti says it has secured low-time 737-200s previously used as executive aircraft or corporate shuttles. NTA's present fleet of two 737s will be joined by two more aircraft next month and a further two in December. "We expect to consolidate our position over the next three to four years, and by the fifth be in a position to make a decision on new aircraft," says Perotti.