China’s HNA Group Company Limited and Azul Brazilian Airlines recently announced a new strategic partnership where the HNA Group will acquire a 23.7 per cent stake in Azul, Brazil’s third largest airline, aiming to benefit from substantial passenger traffic between China and Brazil, which are strong global trade partners.
HNA Group will assume the role of single largest shareholder of Azul, and will appoint new members to the board of directors. Through the partnership, the companies will cooperate in the development of code sharing, new route development, and expand the loyalty participation programmes.
This global partnership joins together two of the largest players in two of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world. Azul is the largest airline in Brazil by number of cities served, offering more than 900 daily flights to more than 100 destinations. With a fleet of 145 aircraft Azul operates approximately one-third of the daily departures of the Brazilian aviation market.
HNA Group owns the fourth largest airline group in terms of fleet size in the People’s Republic of China and operates a fleet of 561 aircraft. It operates scheduled domestic and international service on more than 630 routes from locations throughout the People’s Republic of China and internationally.
“HNA Group is committed to expanding in the airline industry through strategic investments in companies with strong market positions and excellent management teams,” said Adam Tan, president of HNA Group. “We are pleased to partner with Azul in order to bring more choice and convenience to our customers traveling to and from Brazil. We eagerly look forward to working with Azul founder David Neeleman and his team for the mutual benefit of both airlines.”
David Neeleman, CEO of Azul, added: “HNA Group sees in Azul a solid investment with high growth potential. The USD $450 million investment, considering Brazil’s current macroeconomic situation, demonstrates that we have a winning business model and that the HNA Group, as a large investor, has absolute confidence in Azul’s team. Moreover, this investment makes Azul the airline with the highest valuation in the Brazilian market, at more than R$7.0 billion (US$1.8 billion).”