Azul takes Jetblue’s ‘no-frills chic’ approach to gain a foothold in Brazil

Air travel in Brazil is booming as a result of the rapid expansion of the middle class in the country, about 100 million strong. According to a recently released IATA study, the Brazilian domestic aviation market has grown 19 percent in terms of revenues in the first six months of 2011, the world’s fastest growth. As a comparison, the domestic market in China and India expanded with nearly 8 percent, while the U.S. recorded a 2.5 percent growth.

Azul Linhas Aéreas
Started by Jetblue founder and former CEO David Neeleman, Azul (Blue in Portuguese) in December 2008 entered the market as a Latin version of the New York-based airline. Just like Jetblue, Azul operates a ‘No-Frills Chic’ concept – where the low cost idea meets a dash of innovation – in order to differentiate itself in a market dominated by TAM and GOL.

The airline was named Azul after a crowdsourced naming contest, which created an instant buzz around the airline. In its first year of operation, Azul also offered an ‘all-you-can-jet’ promotion when launching new routes. The PassaporteAzul allowed purchasers to travel on as many Azul flights as they wanted for a one-month period for R$499 (USD306, EUR215). According to Azul, 80 percent of the purchasers on those passes had never flown on the airline before. As a result, Azul boarded more than 2 million customers in 2009, its first year of operation, the first airline in the world to achieve this. Azul was recently also named Brazil’s most innovative company by Fast Company magazine.

Ônibus Azul
Azul has, by choice, avoided the major airline hubs and connection centers in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, choosing to focus on cities less well served by established airlines. For example, its main hub is Campinas Airport, which is located an hour’s drive from São Paulo. To make it attractive for consumers to travel via Campinas, Azul provides free bus transportation for thousands of its passengers daily from Brazil’s business capital as well as from several other cities it serves. The airport transfer buses offer live satellite TV and free Wi-Fi onboard.
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