By João Machado
Itapemirim Increases Network, Starts Operations in Five Cities
Surfing on Brazil’s continued roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine and in the consequent returning confidence for air travel, Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos, also known by its shortened name/acronym ITA, the country’s newest airline startup, has started operations to five new cities.
The company’s new destinations are four state capitals in the Northeast – Fortaleza, Maceió, Natal and Recife – and one in the Southern region: Florianópolis. Although the company claims to cater for both corporate and leisure traveler, it is clear that these destinations are aimed at the leisure traveler, as per Itapemirim’s press release about the new launches.
“ITA’s new destinations, which include the Northeast and South regions of Brazil, are already very popular among tourists from all around the world”, said the airline in the text.
“With the rebound of the economy, motivated by the advance of the Brazilian population’s immunisation against COVID-19, there is a natural rebound of regional tourism and ITA will be prepared to serve this demand with exccelence”, the airline added.
According to G1 news portal, as of August 2, 47.64% of the Brazilian population received the first shot of the vaccine against COVID-19, with 19.59% having the immunization cycle completed (Brazil also uses Janssen’s single-shot vaccine).
Airlines in Brazil are still betting heavily on domestic leisure demand as the return of corporate traffic in the country is still uncertain.
With operations starting on early July, ITA already served eight cities: São Paulo/Guarulhos Airport (from where it has its main base at the moment), Belo Horizonte/Confins, Brasília, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Porto Seguro, Rio de Janeiro/Galeão and Salvador.
The airline currently operates a fleet of four Airbus A320 aircraft, all of which came from second-hand operators. Despite that, they were all reconfigured to carry 162 passengers in two classes, both with the same seats. ITA arrived at the Brazilian market wishing to offer a “premium” product in trunk routes against the other airlines; while catering is still forbidden by the national health authority, the airline already offers a larger pitch than its peers and free luggage dispatch in all fare segments.
Despite the smaller density which would imply in higher relative costs, Itapemirim is consistently offering lower fares than the three major airlines – Azul, GOL and LATAM Brasil. According to a survey by online travel agency (OTA) Viajala.com.br and published by PANROTAS travel portal, in four major national routes where ITA started serving in the previous month (São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo-Porto Alegrea, São Paulo-Brasília, Belo Horizonte-Porto Seguro – this one served by ITA with connections), three saw price reductions by two of the three competitors in the 32 day-period finishing in July 15.