Avianca Brasil officially became Star Alliance’s 28th member on July 22, at a ceremony held in the military airbase at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport.

The ceremony was hosted by Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab with Avianca Brasil CEO Jose Efromovich, and attended by chief executives and senior directors from the other 27 member airlines.

“Avianca Brasil will be a perfect fit to our team, and our network in Brazil,” said Schwab. “In other words, we are back again where we belong,” he added, referring to Brazilian carrier TAM’s departure from the alliance in 2014, to join merger partner LAN in Oneworld.

He said Brazil is the “most important aviation market on the continent,” pointing out that 13 member airlines now serve the country, with Avianca Brasil’s 15 new destinations bringing the total to 27. 

Schwab said Avianca Brasil joins “430,000 aviation professionals around the globe, striving to deliver top class service to over 600 million Star Alliance customers every year.”

Efromovich told delegates that Avianca Brasil has outperformed the country’s market in recent years. He cited figures showing CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 44 per cent between 2010 and 2014, and increase of market share from 2.6 per cent in 2010 to 9 per cent by May this year. “We have had the strongest organic growth – without joint ventures or acquisitions,” said Efromovich.

He said the increase in RPK (revenue per passenger kilometre) in 2014 was 24 per cent, against a national industry average of 6 per cent, while 17 per cent is predicted for this year, ahead of an average 4 per cent.

Aviation in Brazil is growing exponentially, from 33 million passengers flying in 2004, to 100 million last year. With a prediction of 200 million flights taken in 2024, “the future starts today,” said Efromovich.

Schwab and Efromovich agreed joining Star would boost business travel for both the airline and the alliance. Schwab said: “From today Avianca will be participating in all Star Alliance fare products, it will become part of our round-the-world products and regional fares.”

He said this represented a significant opportunity for engaging the “many Brazilian multinationals we see operating all round the world” with Star’s Corporate Plus product – the airline single contract designed to replace agreements with individual member carriers.

Avianca Brasil will become an all-Airbus fleet in August, when the last of its Fokker 100s leaves this year, bringing the average age of its 40-plus aircraft to under four years. It flies to 23 airports in Brazil, and operates 210 daily flights. Bogota in Columbia is currently its only international destination.

Sister airline Avianca Columbia has been a Star Alliance member since 2009. The two airlines operate separately – and are bound to do so by market regulations – but are both part of the Synergy Group, which is owned by Jose Efromovich’s brother, German.

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