GOL Boeing 737-800
Air France-KLM will take a $100 million stake in Brazilian low-cost carrier (LCC) GOL as the Franco-Dutch group seeks to increase its interests in South America.
The deal, part of which will see Air France-KLM buying GOL shares worth $52 million, or 1.5% of the Brazilian company’s value, will include an extension of a 2009 codesharing arrangement that allows Air France and KLM to place their codes on 28 GOL flights operating from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to Brazilian destinations. GOL will place its codes on Brazil-European services.
The agreement will see the three airlines coordinate their sales forces and enhance cooperation in aircraft maintenance, including engines, APUs and onboard equipment.
Despite a recent blip, Brazil’s economy has been growing rapidly and will be further boosted over the next two years by the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games taking place in the country.
Air France-KLM described the move as “a long-term strategic partnership.” GOL already has a strategic cooperative agreement with Delta Air Lines; Delta is a major partner of Air France-KLM and the US and European carriers are members of the SkyTeam alliance.
“We are pleased to bring our forces together with GOL, a leading company in Brazil,” Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. “We believe that this comprehensive strategic agreement will create value for our company and for our customers and significantly strengthen the commercial position of Air France-KLM in the region.
“Brazil, host of the World Cup football and 2016 Olympic Games, has a growing business and leisure traffic. This collaboration is part of our strategy to build strong [long-term] partnerships in regions with high potential.”
Air France plans to start a new 3X-weekly service from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Brasilia from March 31, and also plans to start operating the Airbus A380 on its Rio and São Paulo sectors.
Since its inception in 2001, GOL has won nearly 40% of the Brazilian domestic market. It operates 141 Boeing 737NGs on a network of 51 destinations in Brazil and 10 countries around Central and South America.