MIAMI – Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos’ (K9), aka ITA, first commercial flight took off today from Guarulhos International Airport (GRU). PS-AAF and PS-SPJ A320s flew from GRU to Rio de Janeiro-Galeão (GIG), Confins (CNF), Brasilia (BSB), Salvador (SSA), Porto Alegre (POA), Curitiba (CWB) and Porto Seguro (BPS).
Last year, the market was surprised when the new Brazilian airline, which is part of the same-named bus firm, announced its ambitions in the midst of a pandemic. With today’s launch of regular flights, ITA has achieved the first leg of its plan using Airbus aircraft.
Its first network, which comprises Belo Horizonte-Confins, Rio de Janeiro-Galeo, So Paulo/Guarulhos, Brasilia, Salvador, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, and Porto Seguro, will gradually expand until June 2022, when it will reach 35 destinations, encompassing the country’s major cities.
ITA, Airbus A320 and Latin America
Back in August of last year, Itapemirim selected the Airbus A320 aircraft to launch the domestic airline. As a new operator of the A320ceo, ITA is set to begin operations with four aircraft and expects to expand the fleet to 50 by 2022, though there’s currently no confirmation from the airline on the matter.
At the time of the Airbus deal announcement, ITA CEO Tiago Senna said the carrier had plans to have a single aircraft type fleet. Senna had already signed a letter of intent with Airbus lessors to secure an initial batch of ten A320 jets.
This further cements the European manufacturer’s footprint in Latin America and the Caribbean, where it controls 60% of airline fleets, with 660 aircraft in service and another 450 on order.
A Rocky Start Bears Its Fruit
This year, the airline started an extended program of certifications flights on April 12 and ran to April 15. A total of 13 flights were performed under the supervision of the Brazilian Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) between GRU, CNF, GIG, SSA, and POA.
These flights were performed with an A320-200, registered as PS-SPJ and already bearing the yellow K9 livery. At the time, this was the only Airbus leased by K9, which it received back in February. According to planespotters.net, K9 has nine more leased-ordered A320-200 that are expected to be delivered soon.
Despite the Itapemirim undergoing a judicial reorganization, its airline business is backed by US$500m from Abu Dhabi investors. While the company says today’s flights fall out of the judicial scope of said reorganization, due to the fact that there were fewer planes available at launch and demand was lower than predicted, the airline had to cancel numerous flights before it went live.
According to aviacionline.com, to better utilize its current fleet, ITA made strategic improvements to its network, beginning to conduct triangular flights to consolidate certain sections. This means that instead of flying So Paulo–Curitiba and So Paulo–Porto Alegre, ITA can fly, as an example, So Paulo–Curitiba–Porto Alegre–So Paulo.
Featured image: ITA’s Airbus A320 first commercial flight at Galeao International Airport, Brazil. Photo: João Pedro Santoro/Airways