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Old January 25th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #1
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✈ | AD/G3/JJ°/O6 | Brazilian Airlines

Brazil's low-cost Gol airline adding Bolivia as second international destination
21 January 2005

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - A month after starting its first international flights to Argentina, Brazil's Gol airline announced Friday that it will soon add service to Bolivia.

The low-cost carrier, whose full name is Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, said it has received government authorization to operate regular flights to Santa Cruz de La Sierra in Bolivia. Flights should begin by June.

"Gol's successful operations in Argentina have proven that there is an opportunity to expand our business throughout South America," Gol marketing and service vice president Tarcisio Gargioni said in statement.

Chief executive Constantino de Oliveira Jr. said recently that he expects to secure 70,000 passengers a year for the company's route between Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The airline market in South America's largest country is benefiting from a resurgent Brazilian economy. Brazil's economy grew by more than 5 percent in 2004 and is expected to grow by at least 3.5 percent this year.

Gol started flying in 2001 and is now Brazil's third-largest airline after Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandense SA, known as Varig, and TAM Linhas Aereas SA.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 07:00 PM   #2
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Good news for GOL and Brazilian aviation, I hope this flight will leave from my city, that since a reform (construction of a new passenger terminal, ampliation of the lane and a new avenue connetion with the east region of the city) had begin, the international flights were canceled (it has only charters now) and some other national routes were canceled too, as the reform will end on the mid of the year, I hope this fligh of GOL from Santa Cruz leave from here.

About Vasp, I hope they close really soon, once I spent 20h on Cumbica airpot to take the a flight, and it was on high season so the flight was full, and something interesting happened, I help a group of Israelis (in english) and a group of Lebaneses (in french) who were waiting for the flight too, and didn't know what was happenig.

If VASP close, CVC (a Tourism operator) already said it will launch a new company, today they only have charter flights.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 07:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
^ Competition does a lot of wonders. In fact, I notice Air France and Lufthansa are offering transatlantic flights for US300 during the winter low-season. Comparatively, prices flying out from neighboring Canada costs almost double that amount.

I believe South American airlines need to grow and mature a bit more before national goverments will allow more foreign competition.
yes it really does, I hope the companies get mature as you said, because I think that here in Brazil we don't flight as much as we should/could, Brazil is a huge country with a big population and the passanger numbers of the whole country is arround 80 milion (2003) passangers, that's the number of importat aiports arround the world alone.
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Last edited by Fabio; January 25th, 2005 at 07:16 PM.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 09:29 PM   #4
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Brazil Vasp Airline Faces Govt Audit, Possible Sanctions
25 January 2005
Dow Jones International News

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Financially troubled Brazilian airline Vasp faces a government audit and possible sanctions because of massive cancelations of flights in recent weeks, Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar said Tuesday.

Alencar spoke to reporters following a meeting with Vasp executives in Brasilia. Alencar was quoted by the Estado news agency.

"As a concession-holder, Vasp must follow certain rules, and one of them is maintaining its regular schedule of flights," Alencar said. Alencar serves simultaneously as Brazilian vice president and as defense minister. In the latter capacity, he holds responsibility over civil aviation affairs.

In recent weeks, Vasp has adopted a policy of routinely canceling flights that aren't at least half full.

Following Tuesday's meeting with Alencar, Vasp President Wagner Canhedo said the airline will continue to cancel flights, based on the 50% policy, "for the next 15 days or so."

Alencar said he has ordered the Defense Ministry's Civil Aviation Department to audit Vasp's books.

"Once the audit is completed, we will decide what to do about Vasp," said Alencar.

Civil Aviation Department officials said the audit will be completed within a few days. They said government sanctions against Vasp could include heavy fines and permanent cancelation of routes.

Vasp suffered a dramatic loss of market share in 2004. Earlier in January, a Civil Aviation Department report showed that Vasp's market share had fallen to only 0.7% in December compared with 11.9% one year before.

The company has been experiencing financial difficulties since the 2001 recession that hit the industry.

Vasp's debts include 760 million Brazilian reals ($1=BRL2.68) owed to the Federal Airport Authority, known as Infraero, for airport charges not paid since the 1990s.

Currently, Vasp is operating on a six-month emergency license granted by the federal government pending presentation of a comprehensive financial plan.

-By Tom Murphy, Dow Jones Newswires
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Old January 27th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #5
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Brazil's Civil Aviation Dept Cancels Eight Vasp Routes
27 January 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Brazil's civil aviation department, or DAC, has canceled licenses for the last eight regular passenger routes operated by Brazilian airline Viacao Aerea de Sao Paulo SA, or Vasp, a DAC spokesperson said Thursday.

The decision effectively ends all regular flights operated by financially-burdened Vasp, though the firm can still operate charter flights and could technically request new routes, according to DAC.

The company still has its six-month emergency permission to fly granted by the federal government pending presentation of a comprehensive financial plan. The emergency license expires in April.

Vasp officials were not immediately available for comment early Thursday morning.

Vasp, which suffered a dramatic loss of market share in late 2004, has recently taken to canceling any passenger flight with less than 50% occupancy.

Meanwhile, late Wednesday, the company said it "deeply regretted" the decision by company employees to walk out on an indefinite strike at midnight.

In a statement, Vasp said the only way for the company to survive was by a joint effort of management and staff. Some 800 staff voted to start the strike due to delays receiving their salaries.

The company has been experiencing financial difficulties since the 2001 recession that hit the industry.

Its debts include 760 million Brazilian reals ($1=BRL2.66) owed to the Federal Airport Authority, known as Infraero, for airport charges not paid since the 1990s.

The financial problems have also hit a number of other local airlines, including Transbrasil, which has was forced into bankruptcy in 2001, and Brazil's largest airline, Viacao Aerea Riograndense SA (VAGV4.BR), or Varig, which is currently negotiating a rescue package with creditors and the government.

-By Rogerio Jelmayer, Dow Jones Newswires
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Old January 28th, 2005, 03:22 AM   #6
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the local news are saying that Vasp is lilkly to regain is right to flight on other routes and that the Federal government will help the company.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 06:50 PM   #7
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Born from a bus company, Brazil's Gol airline spreading wings in South America
By ALAN CLENDENNING
31 January 2005

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - In a country where domestic air travel meant free whiskey in coach class only a few years ago, an airline born from a bus company is attracting travelers in droves to flights where such frills are non-existent.

The low-cost phenomenon launched by Gol even extends to the company's executive domain -- a squat, four-story building with no elevators where visitors trudge up the stairs to meet with the airline's management team.

Four years after scrambling to get six planes flying in time to profit from Brazil's busy summer travel season, Gol has carried 23 million passengers in Latin America's most populous country and is spreading its wings abroad.

Gol, which took to the skies in 2001 serving just seven Brazilian cities, now has nearly 30 new Boeing 737s traveling to 38 destinations across this country almost the size of the continental United States.

The family-controlled company introduced Brazilians to online sales, ticketless travel and cold sandwiches and soft drinks instead of hot meals and booze. Forget about first class, business class or frequent flier miles: They're not offered.

And the airline is spreading its wings abroad, starting its first international route to Argentina in December and pledging to start service to Bolivia by June. Analysts predict the carrier's next stops could be Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru or Uruguay.

Growth for Gol, which translates as "Goal" in both Portuguese and Spanish in soccer-crazed Latin America, has come with plenty of challenges. The company got off the ground with a big marketing splash just nine months before the Sept. 11 travel drop-off.

Then Brazil's aviation industry was hit in 2002 by a huge devaluation of the Brazilian currency that pushed other domestic carriers to the verge of bankruptcy because airline costs like fuel and aircraft leasing payments are linked to the dollar.

Brazil, which has South America's largest economy, went on to flirt with recession in 2003 amid sky-high interest rates.

But Gol, whose full name is Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, managed to steadily increase its Brazilian market share by offering passengers lower fares than its rivals during the bad economic times.

"We thought people would be more price sensitive in those environments," chief executive Constantino Oliveira Jr. said in an interview. "So we converted the crises into opportunities for growth."

Gol says its fares are typically 20 percent less than its competition, but frequent business flier and software company executive Miguel Garcia says he sometimes gets a 30 percent discount flying Gol instead of other airlines.

"The service is more basic, but it's worth it for the price," Garcia said after a dawn flight from Sao Paulo to the southern city of Porto Alegre that included a boxed cold breakfast and apple or grape juice. There was no orange juice and no coffee.

In keeping with Gol's mantra to do everything on the cheap, the carrier outsources phone reservation call centers and uses one type of plane to save on maintenance and pilot training costs. Children get toy planes as presents -- but the planes, made of paper, look like bookmarks.

Cost-cutting runs in Oliveira's blood, courtesy of his father, a former long-haul trucker who started a bus company in the 1950s that became one of the country's biggest.

"He always said 'When you can save on costs, why spend? There's a cost benefit every time,'" Oliveira said of his father.

The younger Oliveira, who became a licensed pilot at age 17 and rose through the ranks at the bus company before starting Gol, said his father always wanted to offer a low-cost air travel alternative in Brazil. But he held back because of the country's tight regulation over the industry, including government-set prices for tickets in the 1980s and '90s.

The regulatory climate eased in the late 1990s just as Internet use mushroomed in Brazil. And one of the country's major airlines, Vasp, started laying off workers and slashing routes, creating a ready labor pool of experienced airline executives and pilots.

The Oliveiras sensed the timing was right in the summer of 2000, snagged talent from Vasp and launched the airline seven months later with an initial investment estimated by analysts at US$12 million (euro9.2 million). The first flight came one month later than the elder Oliveira wanted, but in time to capitalize on the annual passenger demand crush in Brazil during South America's summer.

Focusing on business travelers and Brazilians who had never flown before, Gol's domestic market share grew from 12 percent in 2002 to 24 percent by 2004, putting it in the No. 3 position behind Varig and Tam -- and far ahead of Vasp, whose market share declined to less than 1 percent by the end of last year.

Investors have taken notice, snapping up shares during Gol's initial public offering last summer in Sao Paulo and New York, which raised $280 million (now euro215 million). The company's American depository shares are up 60 percent since the IPO, amid analyst predictions they could go 20 percent higher this year.

"We view Gol as one of the best long-term investment stories in the airline universe today," Morgan Stanley analyst William Greene said in a note to investors.

Analysts say Gol's expanding presence in South America will put pressure on traditional carriers to keep prices down, but believe the airline will keep up with competition from other low-cost airlines like Chile's Sky, Uruguay's Uair and Brazil's OceanAir.

"The only risk, which in Constantino Jr.'s case I don't see, is believing they can walk on water," said Robert Booth, a Miami-based aviation consultant and editor of an aviation newsletter focusing on Latin America.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 06:19 PM   #8
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Brazil's TAM Airline Sees Market Share Slip In February
07 March 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Brazil's largest domestic airline, TAM Linhas Aereas SA (TANC4.BR), saw its market share tail off in February, having leapt nearly nine percentage points since before the collapse of Viacao Aerea de Sao Paulo SA, or Vasp.

TAM's market share in February was 41.8%, down from 44.4% in January, according to DAC. The figures show TAM was the largest beneficiary from the demise of Vasp, which collapsed under a mountain of unpaid bills.

After months of debt-induced decline, the DAC canceled Vasp's remaining regular routes in late January, although the airline continues to operate some charter and cargo flights.

TAM's market share was 33.2% in April 2004, just before Vasp's traffic levels started to plummet.

Brazil's low-cost airline, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes, had a market share of 24.1% in February, up from 23.3% in January. Gol also gained off Vasp, having just 20.3% market share in April 2004.

Viacao Aerea Riograndense SA (VAGV4.BR), or Varig, had a market share of 31.4% in February, up from 30.5% in January, which was in turn identical to the market share reported in April 2004.

The slew of other domestic airlines with regular routes failed to capitalize on the fall of Vasp, according to DAC figures. Their combined market share in February was 2.2%, up fractionally from 2.1% in April 2004.

The data does not include non-regular charter flights.

In terms of the actual number of passengers transported, TAM carried 955,869 in February, up 35% from April 2004, while Gol carried 553,685, up 28% in the same period, and Varig carried 730,020, up 12%.

The total number of passengers carried by domestic Brazilian carriers in February was 2.29 million, up 7.5% from 2.13 million a year ago.

In a statement, Gol said its load factor, the number of passengers transported versus the total number of seats available, was 71% during February.

Gol said it reached a load factor of 77% on its international routes to Argentina, which launched in December 2004. The company has a 2% share of international flights.

Including international operations, Varig remains Brazil's largest airline. Varig carried 1.67 million passengers on international routes in February, or 82.1% of the share of international traffic amongst Brazilian carriers.
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Old March 9th, 2005, 05:21 PM   #9
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Govt Welcomes New Airlines In Brazil Mkt: Palocci - Report
08 March 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--The government welcomes the entrance of new airlines into the Brazilian travel market, Finance Minister Antonio Palocci said Tuesday.

"We should stimulate the entrance of new companies into the Brazilian airline market," Palocci was quoted as saying by the Estado news agency at a travel industry event.

The Brazilian airline industry was hurt by a recession from 2001 through 2003, leaving some of the traditional industry leaders with heavy losses and debts. The most affected was traditional flag carrier Varig (VAGV4.BR), which carries debts of some 6 billion Brazilian reals ($1=BRL2.68). Another major carrier, TAM (TANC3.BR), has also been hit with heavy debts.

Palocci said, "We want to make sure there is a healthy environment for the airlines operating here, as a way to guarantee competition and benefits for consumers."

He said the government is following negotiations between Varig and its creditors with interest, but he said the government was interested only in "market solutions" for the company.

"I don't think the state trying to regulate the industry, or control market size or boost prices, is the solution," he said. "We believe in competition. There are some industries in Brazil which are afraid of competition and this is a problem in the airline industry."
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Old March 13th, 2005, 12:19 AM   #10
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Brazil's Varig Lashes Out Over Possible Govt Takeover
11 March 2005

SAO PAULO (AP)--Brazil's flagship airline, Varig (VPTA4.BR), lashed out Friday against lawmakers who want the government to take over the carrier and ensure it doesn't collapse under a mountain of debt.

"This effort makes no sense at a time when Varig is honoring its commitments despite enormous difficulties," Varig said in a statement a day after the lawmakers said Brazil's vice president confirmed that a takeover was possible.

Vice President Jose Alencar was noncommittal several months ago when asked if the government would take over Varig, but legislators said he told them a takeover is possible as long as it happens "within the limits of the law."

After his comments were widely reported in Brazil, Alencar said Friday that the government doesn't want to be in the business of running an airline, Brazil's official Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

"What the government wants is a market solution reached through negotiations with the company and new candidates to run it," said Alencar, who also runs Brazil's Defense Ministry, which oversees civil aviation.

Varig is struggling under crushing debt estimated $3.5 billion, much of it incurred after the Sept. 11 travel drop-off and a depreciation of the Brazilian currency in 2002 that forced it to pay more for dollar-linked costs like fuel and aircraft leasing payments.

But the country's largest airline, whose full name is Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandense, has been in operation for 70 years and is a source of deep national pride, so analysts believe the government won't allow it to go bankrupt.

Lawmakers were angered Tuesday when representatives of Varig's controlling shareholder, the nonprofit Rubem Berta Foundation, failed to show up in the capital of Brasilia for a hearing on the airline's future.

The foundation, representing Varig employees, has an 87% stake in the company and has repeatedly rebuffed efforts over the last several years to force it to relinquish control.

Criticizing the prospect of a government takeover as "radical and totalitarian," Varig called for a "fair solution" to resolve its problems, saying the future of Brazilian commercial aviation is at stake.

Varig has about 100 planes that fly to 110 Brazilian cities and 27 international destinations in 18 other countries. Although it is Brazil's largest carrier when international and domestic services are combined, the company has lost domestic share over the last several years to Brazil's other two major carriers, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA and TAM Linhas Aereas SA.

A fourth carrier, Vasp, stopped operating in January after being plagued for years by debt, labor problems and an aging fleet. A Brazilian court Thursday night ordered the government to take over Vasp, whose full name is Viacao Aerea de Sao Paulo.

The judge also froze all personal assets of Vasp chief executive Wagner Canhedo, who bought the company from the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo in the early 1990s.

Vasp's debts include $281 million to the government for unpaid airport fees and $27 million to 2,000 employees.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 06:51 PM   #11
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Portugal GES Interested in Brazil Varig
16 March 2005
Portuguese News Digest

Portuguese financial group Grupo Espírito Santo (GES) is interested to buy a stake in the capital of Brazil's troubled flag airline Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandense (Varig), it was reported on March 16, 2005.

An unnamed official source from GES in Brazil reportedly said the group is negotiating a 20 pct stake purchase of Varig. According to Brazil's laws, the 20 pct stake is the maximum which a foreign company can own in the local airline sector.

GES, which is the main shareholder in local private air carrier PGA Portugalia Airlines, became the second Portuguese company showing interest in Varig, after tourism and leisure group Grupo Pestana confirmed its interest in buying a 20 pct stake in the carrier. On the other hand, Pestana denied information published in the Brazilian press that it had completed the negotiations of the purchase.

Source: Jornal de Negocios (VA/EP/TD)
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Old March 19th, 2005, 05:55 AM   #12
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TAM Plans to Offer Flights to New York in Deal with American Airlines
17 March 2005
Agencia Estado

Sao Paulo, 16 - TAM Linhas Aareas, Brazil's second-largest airline, on Wednesday confirmed plans to start offering flights to New York in a code-sharing agreement with American Airlines.

In addition, TAM has requested authorization from federal authorities to increase its weekly flights between Sao Paulo and Paris to 14 from the current ten later this year.

TAM has boosted its share of international flights to 15.85% in February from 11.57% a year earlier, according to recent data from the Civil Aviation Department (DAC).
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Old March 20th, 2005, 06:23 AM   #13
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Brazil Varig To Launch Three Additional Rio-Lisbon Flights
18 March 2005

Brazil's troubled flag carrier Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandense (Varig) will launch on March 31, 2005 three additional weekly flights between Rio de Janeiro and Portugal's capital Lisbon to meet the demand during the European summer.

The flights are planned to be maintained until July 27, 2005 but they could also become regular if the occupancy of planes is guaranteed, the company was quoted as saying on March 17, 2005.

Varig planes are planned to take off from Lisbon on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1045 local time and on Sundays at 1045 as well. The return flights to Lisbon will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2035 and on Saturdays at 1940.

Varig now carries out daily flights to Lisbon from Brazil's major cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo along with another 21 weekly flights operated on a code-sharing basis with Portugal's flag carrier TAP from Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Natal, Fortaleza and Salvador.

Source: O Globo
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Old March 24th, 2005, 07:49 AM   #14
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Brazilian low-cost carrier to buy four Boeing 737-800s
23 March 2005

SEATTLE (AP) - GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA is exercising options to buy four more Boeing 737-800 passenger jets worth up to $278 million at list prices, the low-cost Brazilian carrier and the aircraft manufacturer announced Wednesday.

Under the contract with Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the carrier increased its number of firm orders to a total of 30 737-800s -- six for delivery next year, 13 in 2007, seven in 2008 and four in 2009.

The 737-800 carries list prices of $61.5 million to $69.5 million but discounts are common, especially in multiple orders.

GOL now operates 29 Boeing 737s with a single class of service on flights within Brazil and Argentina.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:45 PM   #15
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Brazil Gol Airline Set To Offer Shares in Brazil, US
28 March 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--No-frills Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (GOL) has filed papers with government authorites in both Brazil and the U.S. relating to a proposed offering of preferred shares in both markets, the company said in a statement Monday.

Gol said it intends to offer 10,200,900 in new preferred shares. In addition, BSSF Air Holdings LLC, an affiliate of AIG Capital Partners, will sell a stake worth 10,199,100 shares in Gol.

Gol said it will offer another 3.06 million shares if there is sufficient demand.

The shares will be offered to local markets and also in the U.S. in the form of American Depositary Shares, or ADSs. Each ADS represents two preferred shares.

The international offering will be led by Morgan Stanley as sole bookrunning manager, and Merrill-Lynch & Co., Raymond James, and Santander Investment Ltd. as joint lead managers.

Meanwhile, the local offering will be led by Banco Santander Brasil S.A., Banco Morgan Stanley Dean Witter S.A., and Banco Itau BBA S.A.

Morgan Stanley will be global coordinator of the offering.
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Old April 12th, 2005, 06:58 PM   #16
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Brazil Airline Gol Pares Down Offering To 14.7M Shares
11 April 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Brazilian no-frills airline Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (GOL) Monday said it has cut its planned public offering of preferred shares to 14.7 million, from the original figure of 20.4 million.

In a statement, Gol also said it will now issue 5.52 million new preferred shares to be sold to the public, about half the original total of 10.2 million shares. In addition, BSSF Air Holdings LLC, an affiliate of AIG Capital Partners, will sell 9.18 million shares it already owns in Gol through a secondary offering, roughly 1 million shares less than the planned sale of 10.2 million shares.

The shares will be priced on April 27, Gol said.

The shares will be offered to local markets and also in the U.S. in the form of American Depositary Receipts, with each ADR representing two preferred shares.

Morgan Stanley (MWD) is the global coordinator of the offering.

The international offering will be led by Morgan Stanley as sole bookrunning manager, and Merrill Lynch (MER), Raymond James (RJF), and Santander Investment (SBR) as joint lead managers.

The local offering will be led by Banco Santander Brasil, Banco Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and Banco Itau BBA.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 05:10 PM   #17
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New airline democratizes Brazil's skies
Discounter Gol Airlines to expand across South America

Andrew Downie
03 May 2005
Christian Science Monitor

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

In an age when airlines are going bankrupt faster than you can say Chapter 11, some might say that starting one in a developing nation like Brazil was a brave decision.

But since taking off in January 2001 with just six planes and seven destination cities, Gol Airlines has proven itself a worthy successor to the US and British discounters that founder Constantino de Oliveira Jr. used as templates. The youthful Mr. Oliveira sought to create affordable travel by "taking a bit of Southwest, a bit of Ryanair, a bit of JetBlue, and Easyjet and tropicalizing them for the Brazilian market," he says.

Just don't expect the stewardesses to dress up like Carmen Miranda.

The result has been nothing short of the democratization of Brazil's friendly skies, helped out by a partnership with US aircraft-maker Boeing - the first of its kind for a Latin American carrier. "Around 10, 11 percent of our passengers are flying on planes for the first time in their life," says Oliveira, a former race-car driver and onetime head of one of Brazil's largest bus companies. "People think a low-cost airline is for poor people, but it isn't; it's for people who have an eye for competitive prices," he says.

The company whose name means "goal" now boasts 31 planes, travels to 41 destinations, and has 22 percent of Brazil's domestic passenger market. It turned a profit of $145 million last year.

In a nation where even the 50-minute flight from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo on the major carriers costs more than the country's $120 monthly minimum wage, Gol charges just $79.

Gol was fortunate to start operating when regulatory conditions were favorable, the price of modern telecommunications equipment was falling, and a large number of experienced workers were looking for employment. But the Sao Paulo-based company also aggressively cut costs, swapping steak dinners and booze for sandwiches and soft drinks, and allowing tickets to be booked over the Internet.

But Oliveira says no decision was more important than building a partnership with Boeing. Bucking the conventional wisdom that said budget airlines fly budget planes, Oliveira signed a deal to secure brand new Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s. Developed in the mid-1990s, the new-generation Boeings are among the most modern and economical jets on the market; their reliability helps Gol keep each plane in the air an average of 14.3 hours a day, a good three hours more than its closest rival.

Gol's enthusiastic embrace of Boeing's phased maintenance program - in which engineers repair and review planes every time they touch down rather than at the end of set periods - has helped slash maintenance costs. Gol will add 26 new Boeings by 2009 and has options to buy another 37. Each with its distinctive orange fuselage will come built to the company's own specifications - the first time Boeing has agreed to purpose-build planes for a Latin American airline. The jets, for example, are adapted to take off and land at Rio's Santos Dumont Airport, which has a short runway.

"We worked very closely with Gol to come up with a solution for them," says John Wojick, Boeing's vice president for Latin American and Caribbean sales. "Gol is a very, very important partner for us."

Another vital factor in the company's success is its personnel. In a country where the service does not always match the smile, Gol stresses the importance of teamwork and customer relations. For example, when pilots enter flight simulators for their annual refresher course on emergency procedures, cabin crew accompany them so they will have a better understanding of what the pilot is dealing with if a stressful situation arises.

To prevent cliques and promote a team spirit on board, every four- member cabin crew is comprised of two newcomers and two veterans with experience from different airlines. A goal-oriented, profit- sharing program that last year saw employees take home an extra four months of salary in bonuses helps keep productivity and morale high. Even Oliveira does his bit to show employees they matter; once a month, he hosts a sit-down lunch with 10 members of staff, drawn at random.

"The thing that most impresses me about Gol is their whole culture," says Bobby Booth, Miami-based editor of Avnews Latin America, a monthly newsletter that covers regional aviation issues. "Everyone thinks about this business as 'capital intensive.' Southwest and ... Gol, have proven that they are also 'people intensive.' "

Gol is part of a trend going on south of the Rio Grande. In Uruguay, Argentina, and Mexico, similar discount airlines are either up and running or are revving their engines for take off, industry experts say. Air Madrid recently began flying to seven Latin American destinations from Spain, and US budget carriers JetBlue and Spirit are also expanding into Latin America later this year.

"It is definitely a trend," says Mr. Booth. "It began in the US, followed in Europe and Asia, and is finally arriving in Latin America and the Caribbean."

The decision by Brazilian passengers to fly Gol has taken a bite out of the competition. Both Transbrasil and VASP have folded since Gol took to the skies, and although Varig and TAM still control two- thirds of the Brazilian market, how long they maintain that dominance is an open question. Gol is aggressively adding routes inside Brazil, and after putting Argentina on its schedule last December, it soon hopes to add Bolivia, Chile, and Uruguay.

"In 2000, our goal was to become a recognized world leader in low- cost, low-fare airlines by 2005," Oliveira says with a confident smile. "Now that we have achieved that goal we are setting ourselves the challenge of becoming known as the airline that popularizes air transport in South America by 2010."

Achieving that would be nothing short of a revolution. An orange revolution.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 04:13 AM   #18
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Texas Pacific Interested In Brazil's Varig Airline-Report
03 May 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--The U.S.-based Texas Pacific Group (TPG.XX) is looking at a possible purchase of Brazil's largest airline, Viacao Aerea Riograndense SA (VAGV4.BR), or Varig, local newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo reported in its Tuesday editions.

The U.S. group has begun an analysis of Varig's financial situation in a process that could extend over 90 days, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Varig itself - burdened by huge debts - is analyzing several other acquisition proposals, according to local reports.

Two Brazilian entrepreneurs, Nelson Tanure and German Efromovich, have separately expressed an interest in buying Varig. According to market analysts, Brazil's Planner Group, a Portuguese investment group and a Swiss group have also submitted offers.

If the Texas Pacific Group were to buy a stake in Varig, it would need a Brazilian partner. Under current laws, Brazilian airlines can't be controlled by overseas owners.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 01:45 AM   #19
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TAP-Portugal wants to merge with Brazil's Varig: report

LISBON, May 4 (AFP) - Portuguese flag carrier TAP-Portugal has proposed a merger with Brazil's heavily-endebted Varig airline that would allow it to dominate air traffic across the south Atlantic, business daily Jornal de Negocios reported Wednesday citing a source close to the process.

The deal would make state-controlled TAP, whose Brazilian president Fernando Pinto is a former head of Varig, the main shareholder of the merged airline with a 20 percent stake, the report said.

Under Brazilian law, foreign companies can acquire a maximum 20 percent stake in the airline sector.

Portugal's Public Works and Transport Minister Mario Lino told the newspaper a final say in the matter would be up to the TAP president.

"I have a great deal of confidence in the management team at TAP and I have followed with great interest the steps that have taken with regards to closer ties with Varig," he said.

TAP-Portugal and Varig entered into a codeshare agreement in October which allows the two airlines to sell tickets on each other's flights between Portugal and Brazil and allows customers to pool frequent flier miles from both firms.

Asked about the proposal, which the newspaper said it had seen a copy of, Pinto would only say that "it is obvious that TAP is not indifferent to the destiny of Varig."

TAP-Portugal is the European airline with the most scheduled services to the Latin American country, a former Portuguese colony.

It offers daily service to five major Brazilian cities and Pinto has said he intends to turn the airline into a hub for travel from Europe to Brazil.

The Brazilian government has been looking ways to ensure that Varig, the nation's second-largest airline, does not collapse under a mountain of debt.

Last month the Brazilian flagship airline said it had slashed its net loss to 87 million reais (27.1 million euros, 34.9 million dollars) in 2004 from 1.8 billion reais in the previous year, its best result since 1999.

Government officials in Brazil have suggested that a possible solution would be a temporary nationalization of the company, whose debt stood at 5.7 billion reais at the end of 2004.

TAP-Portugal has been in talks with Portuguese private airline Portugalia, the nation's second-largest, but the negotiations have reportedly become bogged down and the two carriers have started looking elsewhere for alliances.
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Old May 5th, 2005, 04:01 AM   #20
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✈ | AD/G3/JJ°/O6 | Brazilian Airlines

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Associated Press
Portuguese Airline in Talks With Varig
05.04.2005, 01:02 PM

TAP Air Portugal is in talks with Brazilian airline Varig on possibly taking a stake in the South American carrier, Prime Minister Jose Socrates said Wednesday.

Socrates said the government, which owns Air Portugal, would not block any agreement between the companies' boards.

"The talks are still just talks and the negotiations are at an early stage, far from a final deal," Socrates said.

Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negocios reported Wednesday that TAP had offered to merge with Varig to form a new airline for South Atlantic air traffic. TAP would have a 20 percent stake and management control, it said.

TAP officials declined to comment on the report.

Under Brazilian law, foreign companies cannot hold a stake of more than 20 percent in a Brazilian airline.

TAP and Varig already have a codesharing agreement on some flights. TAP's CEO Fernando Pinto is Brazilian.

Brazil's flagship airline is struggling under crushing debt estimated at 9.5 billion reals (euro3 billion, US$3.8 billion).

Brazil's nonprofit Rubem Berta Foundation is the controlling shareholder in Varig, whose full name is Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandense. The foundation, representing Varig employees, has an 87 percent stake in the company and has repeatedly rejected efforts in recent years to force it to relinquish control.

The airline is a source of deep national pride and any foreign takeover attempt likely would meet public resistance.

Varig has about 100 planes that fly to 110 Brazilian cities and 27 international destinations in 18 other countries. Although it is Brazil's largest carrier when international and domestic services are combined, the company has lost domestic share over the last several years to Brazil's other two major carriers, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA and TAM Linhas Aereas SA.

Air Portugal flies to 42 destinations in 25 countries and is the country's leading airline. Last year it set a new passenger record, carrying more than 6 million people.

In March, it joined the Star Alliance, the world's biggest airline confederation with member carriers offer more than 15,000 daily flights to almost 800 destinations.

After years of financial instability and strikes, the government injected euro897.8 million (US$1.2 billion) into Air Portugal between 1994 and 1997 as part of a financial rescue package.

The carrier posted a profit of euro8.6 million last year (US$11.1 million), using revenue from the sale of its baggage handling service to help offset higher fuel costs which hurt profitability
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