Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras has unveiled plans to lease 11 wide-body aircraft to be used for direct flights to U.S. destinations starting in 2015.
Azul plans to run between three and four flights daily from Viracopos-Campinas International Airport outside Sao Paulo to three U.S. destinations: Miami, Orlando and New York. Those will be the airline’s first-ever international routes.
The company will lease six Airbus A330-200s, to be received beginning this year, and five Airbus A350-900s, which are considered the most modern in the commercial aviation industry and are to be delivered starting in 2017, Azul said in a press release Wednesday.
Azul, which termed the expansion an “important milestone in its history,” currently operates a fleet of 136 smaller aircraft used exclusively for domestic flights.
Founded in 2008 and controlled by Brazilian-born American entrepreneur and JetBlue founder David Neeleman, Azul became Brazil’s third-largest airline in 2012 – after TAM and Gol – with its acquisition of Brazilian regional carrier Trip Linhas Aereas.
Azul operates 876 daily flights to 104 destinations in Brazil.
The airline said eight of the new aircraft would be leased from International Lease Finance Corporation, a leader in the commercial aircraft leasing and remarketing industry.
It is still conducting studies pertaining to the lease of the other three Airbus jets. The company added that it will need to hire 1,000 employees to service the new international flights.