Brazil’s World Cup Air Traffic

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

May as well stick with a Brazil theme since the eyes of the world are on the magic juggling of a ball betwixt feet down there. Wouldn’t you like to have a piece of the country’s airline action as all those rapid fans at the FIFA World Cup celebrate the sport?

Maybe not. For domestic carriers it’s much ado about not much. During games, there might be airplanes on the tarmac, still as toys. Brazilian carriers have low expectations for the World Cup.

Some airline watchers agree. They think the World Cup is not so profitable for domestic airlines. Most Brazilians are tethered to television while international carriers haul in the zealots. Corporate demand is flat.

After the tournament some Brazilians may head out on vacation. But until then, domestic flights will have stretch room and not much fizz.

But so far this year the country’s two largest airlines, TAM and Gol, have done OK. Like other airlines around the world they’re matching supply with demand to gain pricing traction.

They decreased capacity and thereby improved domestic load factors. TAM’s load factor sits at 81.2 percent while Gol recorded a load factor of 76.8 percent. Both airlines have about a third of the market share.

Neither carrier expects any financial benefit from the World Cup. Even international business for TAM slipped 3 percent during the first four months of 2014.

Avianca Brazil, the smallest of Brazil’s four domestic carriers, and Azul, the Brazilian regional low-cost carrier started by JetBlue founder Dave Neeleman, continued to grow capacity.

The Azul group, which includes TRIP, a 2012 acquisition, recorded a 6 percent growth year-to-date.

Avianca Brazil recorded the highest load factor – 84.5 percent – but they fly only 8 percent of the market share. TAM’s corporate revenues in the Brazilian domestic market increased 20 percent over the past 12 months.

In 2012, Gol launched service from Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Rio de Janeiro to Miami and Orlando. Next month the airline plans to launch flights from Campinas Viracopos to Miami via Santo Domingo.

Azul’s main base is Campinas. They’ve ordered five A350-900s and plan to launch service to the U.S. in 2015. They’ve got their GPS set on Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and JFK. They’ll be going head-to-head with Gol chasing international revenue.

In the past few years, all four Brazilian airlines have had affairs and dropped and gained weight like a co-ed while the rate of growth slowed down in the build up to the World Cup. Go figure.

What’s the takeaway in this jumble? Big wattage sporting events like the FIFA World Cup aren’t rainmakers for domestic carriers.

The Tarmac’s View:  Brazil forecasts a GPD growth of less than 2 percent for 2014 with currency in a controlled descent amid a trembling economy. After the World Cup and before the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Summer Games might be a great time to visit Brazil.

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