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JetBlue founder Neeleman's new start-up in Brazil orders 36 E-195s

Former JetBlue chief executive David Neeleman confirmed he will launch a domestic carrier in Brazil, pending government approval.

Operations for the unnamed Sao Paulo-based carrier will begin in 2009 using new, 118-passenger seat Embraer E-195s featuring LiveTV satellite television.

Neeleman ordered 36 E-195 jets, with options for 20 and purchase rights for a further 20. The carrier says in a statement it could fly as many as 76 Embraer aircraft by 2013.

Firm orders are valued at $1.4 billion. The order is valued at $3 billion if all options and purchase rights are exercised.

The E-195 is the perfect airplane for the Brazilian market, Neeleman says in a statement. With 30 percent fewer seats than the Boeing and Airbus aircraft flown by other Brazilian carriers, the E-195 offers competitive unit costs but much lower trip costs.

"Because we can make money with fewer passengers than our competitors, we can provide nonstop service profitably where they can't, as well as offer superior frequency.

Neeleman says he raised $150 million to finance the airline.

His fourth aviation enterprise is reportedly backed by $200-250 million in investments from various sources - most of them outside the country.

Holding both Brazilian and US citizenships, Neeleman will not be encumbered by the 20% foreign ownership restriction laws governing local airlines.

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