Varig's resurrection has begun with plans to order 16 aircraft, as the reorganised airline begins rebuilding its operations after the expected receipt of its new air operator's certificate (AOC) this week.

Under a deal hammered out between new Varig, Brazil's bankruptcy court and the two agencies that regulate commercial aviation, the Brazilian national carrier, under the ownership of the VarigLog air cargo business, is expected to receive its AOC this week.

Delays in obtaining certification have frustrated VarigLog, which bought the struggling national carrier for $24.5 million in July. Without it, the company cannot order new aircraft and will lose the rights to key routes if they are not restarted soon.

Chief executive Joao Luiz Bernes de Souza, speaking at this month's ALTA Latin American Airlines Leadership Forum in Cancun, said the airline is planning to place the order for 16 aircraft as soon as the paperwork is complete. This will take its fleet to 31 aircraft.

The airline is currently operating on the original Varig AOC, but de Souza is anxious to shake off the old image and is hiring new staff and planning route restoration. Varig needs to revive dormant routes soon before Brazil's civil aviation agency reallocates them. The agreed deadlines for Varig to revive the dormant routes are mid-December for domestic routes and mid-February for international flights.

A year ago, Varig and TAM were Brazil's only international carriers. Now there are five. In recent months, TAM, Gol, BRA and Oceanair have gained 100 domestic routes. BRA has become a significant overseas player, operating Boeing 767s to Lisbon, Madrid and Milan.

Source: Flight International