David Neeleman, the chairman and founder of JetBlue, has plans to launch a domestic airline in Brazil, according to a report in Travel Weekly. Neeleman has raised $150 million to finance the endeavor in his native country and expects the airline to start operations in early 2009 and ultimately serve most major markets in Brazil by 2013. New Embraer aircraft will seat 118 passengers, with each seatback featuring LiveTV satellite television for in-flight entertainment.
“Our target market is the 150 million passengers who travel annually by long-distance bus as well as those who, for lack of a convenient alternative, don’t travel at all,” said Neeleman. “We respect TAM and GOL as well-run companies with deep pockets. We believe, however, that the Brazilian market is ready for a third major airline and that there is sufficient untapped potential to support all of us.”
There is no news yet of a frequent flyer tie-in with JetBlue and the new airline is yet to be named. This will be the fourth startup airline for Neeleman: Morris Air (1984; sold to Southwest Airlines in 1993), WestJet (1996) and JetBlue (1998).