Haikou, China-based HNA Group, the parent of Hainan Airlines, has agreed to buy a 23.7% stake in Azul Brazilian Airlines for $450 million.
Azul said in a statement that HNA has made a “firm commitment” to acquire the holding. HNA is aggressively acquiring aviation assets globally; it just gained European Commission approval to buy 100% of European ground handling company Swissport.
Azul CEO David Neeleman noted HNA is making a major investment in the Brazilian market at a time when Brazil’s economy is struggling. HNA views Azul as “a solid investment with high growth potential,” he said, adding, “The investment of $450 million, 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.”
HNA president Adam Tan said in a statement, “HNA Group is committed to expanding in the airline industry through strategic investments in companies with strong market positions and excellent management teams. We are pleased to partner with Azul in order to bring more choice and convenience to our customers traveling to and from Brazil.”
HNA and Azul said their partnership “will result in commercial agreements, joint negotiation efforts, and adjustments in aircraft allocation” and “also enables [Azul’s] entry into the Asian market.”
HNA joins United Airlines as an investor in Azul. United earlier this year agreed to acquire a 5% stake in Azul for $100 million.
Azul, founded in 2008 by Neeleman (who also founded JetBlue Airways), was a domestic-only operator until late 2014, when it launched services to the US. In late 2014, the airline also signed a purchase agreement for 35 Airbus A320neos and announced it would lease another 28 A320neos.
Source: centreforaviation.com/ 2015-11-24
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