David Neeleman, the
same who founded JetBlue, launched Azul Brazilian Airlines in 2008. The
company's name was chose by vote on the internet. The two most voted names were
“Samba” and “Azul”. Although the majority voted for Samba, David Neeleman
decided for Azul.
The airline would start operations in 2009, but started in December 2008 with an Embraer E-190 from JetBlue and was the first Brazilian airline to operate the E-Jet family from Embraer. Before Azul, Rio Sul (Varig’s subsidiary) was the only airline to operate an Embraer jet, the ERJ-145. Azul was the first Brazilian airline to offer individual screens in domestic flights. Moreover, the airline innovated in-flight service, offering snacks in large baskets and passengers can take what they want. Azul planned to start operations at Santos Dumont airport, in Rio de Janeiro. However, the airport was restricted for flights with aircraft of up to 50 seats and Rio – São Paulo route. David Neeleman claimed that Azul was not competitive in Galeão airport, as their rivals (Tam and Gol) operated with biggest aircrafts. However, Rio’s governor was against, as this would undermine the intention of privatizing Galeão airport. Thus, Azul decided start operations at Viracorpos airport, in Campinas. The inaugural flight was on December 15, 2008 connecting Campinas to Salvador and Porto Alegre. Later the airline received it first new E-190 and E-195 and expanded its network.
In March 2009, Azul launched flights to Recife, Fortaleza, Navegantes and Manaus. In July, to Campo Grande, Maringá, Maceió and Belo Horizonte. Azul also started the first flights out-off Campinas airport between Navegantes and Porto Alegre, Salvador and Vitória.
In May 2009, Azul beat WebJet and becomes the third largest airline in Brazil, only after Gol and Tam. Nevertheless, in September WebJet beat Azul, which remained in fourth position until July 2010, when it consolidated as the third largest airline in Brazil.
In 2010, the company continued to expand its network to Goiânia, Joinville, Foz do Iguacú, Teresina, São Luis and Belém. At this time Confins airport became the second hub for Azul. On July 20, the airline announced orders for the new ATR-72-600. With ATR aircraft, Azul could serve smaller cities that a jet aircraft cannot land. In December, Azul began to receive some ATR-72-200 while the new ATR-72-600 version did not come and launched flights to Uberaba, São José do Rio Preto, Ribeirão Preto and Presidente Prudente.
On 7 October 2011 was the first Latin American airline to receive the new ATR-72-600.
On May 2012, Azul and Trip announced a merger, creating the third largest airline in Brazil with a fleet of 120 aircraft and 15% of domestic market. To symbolize the merger, Azul brand changed: now the letter "u" is lighter blue. After incorporating Trip, Azul now serve more 100 cities in Brazil! Also in 2012 Azul began offering live TV on board.
In 2014 the merge was completed and Trip brand disappeared. In April 2014 the airline announced the acquisition of six Airbus A330-200 and five Airbus A350-900 and to start international flights to the USA. The flight began in December 2014, in Campinas - Forth Lauderdale route. Azul has also begun code-share agreement with Tap and United. Using the same strategy when choosing Viracopos, Azul chose a secondary airport (Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami) for its flights to the USA. On December, 15 the airline began the flights between Campinas and Orlando. Azul also had plans to fly from Campinas to New York, but dropped.
In November, 2014 Azul announced the order of 63 Airbus A320neo aircraft. The company plans to use the new A320neo to expand the network with routes between major Brazilian airports, competing directly with Tam and Gol. For the regional routes Azul announced the order of 30 Embraer E195-E2.
In June, 2015 United announced the purchase of 5% of Azul's stake for US$ 100 million. In October the company introduced the new interior in the A330 fleet, with economy class, premium economy and business class. With the strong reduction in demand, Azul decided to reduce its international routes, concentrating the flights from Campinas. In November HNA Group, which controls Hainan Airlines, announced the purchase of 23.7% of Azul's stake.
After David Neeleman's invesment in Tap, and Azul in Tap deeper agreement. On May 4, 2016 Azul inaugurated Campinas - Lisbon route. Azul also transferred some aircraft to Tap, reducing seating capacity by approximately 7% in the domestic market.
In February, 2016 the company announced Recife as its HUB in the northeast, expanding its operations in the city to 32 daily connections and 24 destinations.
On July 1, 2016 Azul started flights between Porto Alegre and Montevideo.
On October 20, 2016 the company received its first A320neo. The inaugural flight took place on December st on Campinas - Salvador route.
On April, 2017 Azul started flights between Belo Horizonte and Buenos Aires, which showed a good load factor. The company has plans to expand international network.
Founded: December, 2008
Hubs: Viracorpos, Confins
Code: AZU / AD
Current Fleet: Airbus A320neo, A330-200, ATR-72-600, Embraer E-190, Embraer E-195
Historical Fleet: ATR-42-500, ATR-72-500, ATR-42-300, ATR-72-200, Embraer E-175
Destinations: 101 cities
South: Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, Curitiba, Caxias do Sul, Criciúma, Navegantes, Joinville, Chapecó, Foz do Iguaçu, Cascavel, Maringá, Londrina.
Southeast: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Vitória, Maringá, Bauru, Presidente Prudente, Araçatuba, São José do Rio Preto, Ribeirão Preto, Campinas, São José dos Campos, Resende, Cabo Frio, Macaé, Campos, Juiz de Fora, Varginha, São João Del Rei, Ipatinga, Governador Valadares, Diamantina, Montes Claros, Araxá, Pato de Minas, Uberaba, Uberlândia.
Midwest: Brasília, Goiânia, Campo Grande, Cuiabá, Dourados, Bonito, Corumbá, Calda Novas, Rio Verde, Rondonópolis, Sinop, Alta Floresta.
Northeast: Salvador, Aracajú, Maceió, Recife, João Pessoa, Natal, Fortaleza, São Luis, Palmas, Teresina, Porto Seguro, Ilhéus, Vitória da Conquista, Lençóis, Barreiras, Petrolina, Fernando de Noronha, Juazeiro do Norte, Araguaína.
North: Belém, Manaus, Porto Velho, Rio Branco, Carajás, Marabá, Tucuruí, Altamira, Santarém, Itaituba, Parintins, Porto Trombetas, Barcelos, Santa Isabel do Rio Negro, São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Coari, Tefé, Fonte Boa, São Paulo de Olivença, Tabatinga, Humaitá, Lábrea, Eirunepé, Vilhena, Cacoal, Ji-Paraná.
International Destinations: Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Santa Cruz de La Sierra, Cayenne, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Lisbon