By João Machado
Brazil’s ITA Starts Its Revenue Operations to Eight Cities
After months of wait and some commercial and operational mishaps along the way, this week Brazil finally started seeing its newest airline cross its skies: Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos executed its first revenue operations with plenty of eyes turned to it.
The first flight – IPM001 – connected the airline’s first base in São Paulo/Guarulhos Airport to Brasília with dozens of guests on Tuesday the 29th. The airline’s first aircraft, an Airbus A320 registered PS-SPJ, paying tribute to Grupo Itapemirim’s owner, Sidnei Piva de Jesus, was received in the Federal Capital airport with a water salute by the local firefighters, touching down at 11:39 a.m.
Two days later, on Thursday July 1st, Itapemirim — or ITA, as it’s also known — started officially its flights with paying customers. Initially, eight destinations will be served: São Paulo/Guarulhos, Belo Horizonte/Confins, Brasília, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Porto Seguro, Rio de Janeiro/Galeão and Salvador.
The network is smaller than initially planned, as the company not only faced low sales at the startup but also had less aircraft than expected by the start of its operations. According to PANROTAS, a Brazilian travel news website, the carrier’s fifth A320, registered PS-ITA, only arrived in Brazil this week, while the plan was to start up with five operative aircraft. The portal affirms ITA plans finishing August with ten aircraft in its fleet.
Aeroin, a specialized aviation news portal from Brazil, says that, besides PS-SPJ, three other A320s are incorporated to ITA’s fleet and are already operative in the airline’s network: PS-SFC, PS-AAF and PS-TCS.
All of the airline’s Airbus A320s are configured with 162 seats, less than the 174 offered by peers Azul and LATAM Brasil. However, as ITA rushed into starting up, the airline’s seats are not standardized, which causes awkward situations such as the one observed by multiple passengers at the airline’s inaugural operation; the opinion regarding the seat pitch was unanimous and praise about it was practically universal. However, since PS-SPJ’s last operator was Europe’s low-cost carrier Vueling, the seats were the slimline version and did not recline.
ITA will also incorporate the smaller Airbus A319 — at the moment, five are already in the airline’s Airfleets database as to be incoporated in the future. Although the configuration of this model is still not clear, it is likely to have fewer seats than normal; for reference, in Brazil, LATAM Brasil puts 144 seats in its A319s.
ITA’s proposal is to serve trunk routes with a premium product proposal (hence the less dense configurations), including dispatched luggage in all fare bounds and, once Brazil’s health authority allows, a very elaborate onboard service with warm meals.