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Abu Dhabi invests in new airline in Brazil

Bus company Itapemirim wants to establish its own airline. The plans are already very real. The carrier will receive capital from the United Arab Emirates.

The goal was clear: to find business opportunities. 50 managers from Brazil traveled to the United Arab Emirates last week together with political representatives. One of them, Sidnei Piva, was particularly successful. He’s leading Viação Itapemirim, one of the oldest bus companies in Brazil, which transports 3.2 million passengers a year in 22 federal states.

Piva wants to start his own airline with Itapemirim. And, as he explained after his visit, he will receive support from the country on the Persian Gulf. An Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund – the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority or Mubadala – will invest 500 million dollars in the project, the manager told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

Aircraft from Bombardier

The CEO of Itapemirim seems to have very clear ideas about the airline. The fleet will one day consist of 35 Bombardier planes, he explained. Some of them will be able to carry about 80 passengers, the other about 100. Piva plans to take over the first plane in 2021.

Even though the boss of Itapemirim did not name the model, his indications point to Dash 8-400 or CRJ900 as well as CRJ1000. A corresponding order has already been placed, according to Piva. However, new CRJs can no longer be purchased, as the program has been discontinued and the last ordered aircraft will be delivered in 2021.

Already some experience in aviation

Itapemirim wants to use the money to set up a very special low-cost airline. Together with its buses, it is to offer an integrated travel service for passengers, but also for freight. At the same time, it wants to bid in the privatization of 21 regional airports, which the state of São Paulo plans to auction off in the coming months.

The company already has experience in aviation. In 1991, it launched Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos, a cargo airline that also carried passengers for a short time. But in the year 2000, it ceased operations. In 2017 Itapemirim wanted to buy the regional airline Passaredo, but got into financial difficulties itself and the deal was cancelled.

Not a completely new concept

There have already been attempts to connect transport companies and airlines in some places in the world. In South Africa, the Association of Taxi Drivers wanted to create a separate airline in 2011 with Santaco Airlines to appeal to new sections of the population. But the project never took off. In 2010 the Argentinean bus company Buquebus founded BQB Líneas Aéreas in Uruguay. In 2015, however, it ceased operations.

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