Company Quick10K Filing
Azul
Closing Price ($) Shares Out (MM) Market Cap ($MM)
$0.00 929 $25,036
20-F 2019-04-30 Annual: 2018-12-31
20-F 2018-04-27 Annual: 2017-12-31
AZUL 2018-12-31
Item 17 ☐ Item 18 ☐
Part I
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
Item 4. Information on The Company
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions
Item 8. Financial Information
Item 9. The Offer and Listing
Item 10. Additional Information
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities
Part II
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16. [Reserved]
Part III
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
EX-1.1 d658299dex11.htm
EX-4.6.1 d658299dex461.htm
EX-4.7.2 d658299dex472.htm
EX-8.1 d658299dex81.htm
EX-12.1 d658299dex121.htm
EX-12.2 d658299dex122.htm
EX-13.1 d658299dex131.htm
EX-13.2 d658299dex132.htm
EX-15.1 d658299dex151.htm

Azul Earnings 2018-12-31

AZUL 20F Annual Report

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

Comparables ($MM TTM)
Ticker M Cap Assets Liab Rev G Profit Net Inc EBITDA EV G Margin EV/EBITDA ROA
FDX 45,405 68,452 50,286 69,689 52,974 450 4,620 61,742 76% 13.4 1%
DAL 37,211 62,518 48,560 45,703 0 4,504 8,339 43,782 0% 5.3 7%
GOL 37,113 10,378 0 0 0 0 36,955 0%
LUV 27,733 26,374 16,434 22,337 0 2,397 4,472 27,736 0% 6.2 9%
AZUL 25,036 11,793 0 0 0 0 24,665 0%
UAL 22,604 52,150 41,830 42,485 0 2,644 6,344 33,657 0% 5.3 5%
AAL 14,452 61,967 61,989 45,041 0 1,513 4,881 38,977 0% 8.0 2%
ALK 7,759 12,951 7,440 8,440 0 506 1,166 7,967 0% 6.8 4%
JBLU 5,513 11,236 6,539 7,952 0 440 1,130 6,462 0% 5.7 4%
SAVE 3,222 6,663 4,568 3,636 0 360 562 4,354 0% 7.8 5%

20-F 1 d658299d20f.htm FORM 20-F Form 20-F
Table of Contents

As submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 30, 2019.

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 20-F

 

 

 

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from _______________ to _______________

OR

 

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Date of event requiring this shell company report

Commission file number: 001-38049

 

 

Azul S.A.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

N/A

(Translation of the Registrant’s name into English)

Federative Republic of Brazil

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

Edifício Jatobá, 8th floor, Castelo Branco Office Park

Avenida Marcos Penteado de Ulhôa Rodrigues, 939

Tamboré, Barueri, São Paulo, SP 06460-040

Federative Republic of Brazil

(Address of principal executive offices)

Alexandre Wagner Malfitani (Chief Financial Officer)

Email: alex.malfitani@voeazul.com.br

Telephone: +55.11.4134.9807

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

 

 

Title of each class

  

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares (as evidenced by American Depositary Receipts), each representing three Preferred Shares

   New York Stock Exchange

 

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None


Table of Contents

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.

928,965,058 Common Shares

326,631,190 Preferred Shares

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

Yes ☒    No ☐

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Yes ☐    No ☒

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

Yes ☒    No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).

Yes ☒    No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer ☒

 

Accelerated filer ☐

Non-accelerated filer ☐

 

Emerging growth company ☐

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP ☐

  

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued

by the International Accounting Standards Board. ☒

   Other ☐

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement

item the registrant has elected to follow:

Item 17 ☐    Item 18 ☐

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

Yes ☐    No ☒

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court:

Yes ☐    No ☐


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

    

Page

 

 

INTRODUCTION

     1  

GLOSSARY OF AIRLINE AND OTHER TERMS:

     1  

FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS

     5  

PART I

     6  

ITEM 1.

   IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS      6  

ITEM 2.

   OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE      6  

ITEM 3.

   KEY INFORMATION      6  

A.

   Selected Financial Data      6  

B.

   Capitalization and Indebtedness      11  

C.

   Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds      11  

D.

   Risk Factors      11  

ITEM 4.

   INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY      33  

A.

   History and Development of the Company      33  

B.

   Business Overview      34  

C.

   Organizational Structure      78  

D.

   Property, Plant and Equipment      79  

ITEM 4A.

   UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS      79  

ITEM 5.

   OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS      79  

A.

   Operating Results      79  

B.

   Liquidity and Capital Resources      98  

C.

   Research and Development, Patents and Licenses      102  

D.

   Trend Information      102  

E.

   Off Balance Sheet Arrangements      102  

F.

   Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations      103  

G.

   Safe Harbor      103  

ITEM 6.

   DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES      103  

A.

   Directors and Senior Management      103  

B.

   Management Compensation      108  

C.

   Board Practices      111  

D.

   Employees      113  

E.

   Share Ownership      114  

ITEM 7.

   MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS      114  

A.

   Major Shareholders      114  

B.

   Related Party Transactions      116  

C.

   Interests of Experts and Counsel      120  

ITEM 8.

   FINANCIAL INFORMATION      121  

A.

   Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information      121  

B.

   Significant Changes      122  

ITEM 9.

   THE OFFER AND LISTING      122  

A.

   Offering and Listing Details      122  

B.

   Plan of Distribution      123  

C.

   Markets      123  

D.

   Selling Shareholders      126  

E.

   Dilution      126  

F.

   Expenses of the Issue      126  

ITEM 10.

   ADDITIONAL INFORMATION      126  

A.

   Share Capital      126  

B.

   Memorandum and Articles of Association      126  

C.

   Material Contracts      134  

 

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Page

 

 

D.

   Exchange Controls      135  

E.

   Taxation      135  

F.

   Dividends and Payment Agents      145  

G.

   Statements by Experts      147  

H.

   Documents on Display      147  

I.

   Subsidiary Information      147  

ITEM 11.

   QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK      147  

ITEM 12.

   DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES      149  

A.

   Debt Securities      149  

B.

   Warrants and Rights      149  

C.

   Other Securities      149  

D.

   American Depositary Shares      150  

PART II

     159  

ITEM 13.

   DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES      159  

ITEM 14.

   MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS      159  

ITEM 15.

   CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES      159  

ITEM 16.

   [RESERVED]      160  

A.

   AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT      160  

B.

   CODE OF ETHICS      160  

C.

   PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES      160  

D.

   EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES      161  

E.

   PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS      161  

F.

   CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT      161  

G.

   CORPORATE GOVERNANCE      161  

H.

   MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE      163  

PART III

     164  

ITEM 17.

   FINANCIAL STATEMENTS      164  

ITEM 18.

   FINANCIAL STATEMENTS      164  

ITEM 19.

   EXHIBITS      164  

INDEX TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

     F-1  

 

 

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INTRODUCTION

In this annual report, the discussion of our business includes the business of Azul S.A. and its direct and indirect subsidiaries. Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, “Azul” “we,” “us,” “our” or the “Company” refer to Azul S.A. and its consolidated affiliates. The term “Brazil” refers to the Federative Republic of Brazil and the phrase “Brazilian government” refers to the federal government of Brazil. “Central Bank” refers to Banco Central do Brasil. References in the annual report to “real,” “reais” or “R$” refer to the Brazilian real, the official currency of Brazil and references to “U.S. dollar,” “U.S. dollars” or “US$” refer to U.S. dollars, the official currency of the United States.

GLOSSARY OF AIRLINE AND OTHER TERMS:

The following is a glossary of industry and other defined terms used in this annual report:

 

   

“ABEAR” means the Brazilian Association of Airline Companies (Associação Brasileira das Empresas Aéreas).

 

   

“ABRACORP” means the Brazilian Corporate Agencies Association (Associação Brasileira de Agências Corporativas).

 

   

“ADR” means American depositary receipts.

 

   

Aeroportos Brasil,” a private consortium that operates Viracopos airport jointly with INFRAERO.

 

   

The “Águia Branca Group,” or “Grupo Águia Branca,” is a Brazilian transportation and logistics conglomerate controlled by the Chieppe family.

 

   

“Airbus” means Airbus S.A.S.

 

   

“Airbus Group” means Airbus Group N.V.

 

   

“aircraft utilization” represents the average number of block hours operated per day per aircraft for our operating fleet, excluding spare aircraft and aircraft in maintenance.

 

   

“ANAC” refers to the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil).

 

   

“Atlantic Gateway” means Atlantic Gateway, SPGS, Lda., an entity jointly owned by our principal shareholder, Hainan and another European investor.

 

   

“ATR” means aircraft with turboprop propulsion manufactured by Avions de Transport Régional G.I.E.

 

   

“audited consolidated financial statements” means our audited consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

 

   

“available seat kilometers,” or “ASKs,” represents aircraft seating capacity multiplied by the number of kilometers the aircraft is flown.

 

   

“AVB” means AVB Holding S.A.

 

   

“average fare” means total passenger revenue divided by passenger flight segments.

 

   

“average ticket revenue per booked passenger” means total passenger revenue divided by booked passengers.

 

   

“Avianca Brasil” means Oceanair Linhas Aéreas S.A.

 

   

“Avolon” means Avolon Holdings Limited.

 

   

“block hours” means the number of hours during which the aircraft is in revenue service, measured from the time it closes the door at the departure of a revenue flight until the time it opens the door at the arrival on the gate at destination.

 

   

“Boeing” means The Boeing Company.

 

   

“booked passengers” means the total number of passengers booked on all passenger flight segments.

 

   

“BR Distribuidora” means Petrobras Distribuidora S.A., a subsidiary of Petrobras.

 

   

“CADE” refers to the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica).

 

   

“Calfinco” means Calfinco, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of United.

 

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“CAPA” means the Centre for Aviation, a provider of independent aviation market intelligence, analysis and data services.

 

   

“Cape Town Convention” means the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its protocol on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment, concluded in Cape Town on November 16, 2001.

 

   

“CASK” represents total operating cost divided by available seat kilometers.

 

   

“CBP” means United States Customs and Border Protection.

 

   

“completion rate” means the percentage of completion of our scheduled flights that were operated by us, whether or not delayed (i.e., not cancelled).

 

   

“Correios” means the Brazilian Postal Service (Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos).

 

   

“crewmembers” is a term we use to refer to all our employees, including aircraft crew, airport ground, call center, maintenance and administrative personnel.

 

   

“CVM” means the Brazilian Securities Commission (Comissão de Valores Mobiliários).

 

   

“DECEA” means the Brazilian Department of Airspace Control (Departamento de Controle do Espaço Aéreo).

 

   

“departure” means a revenue flight segment.

 

   

“DOT” means the United States Department of Transportation.

 

   

“economic interest” means a participation in the total equity value of our company, calculated as if all common shares issued and outstanding had been converted into preferred shares at the conversion ratio of 75.0 common shares to 1.0 preferred share pursuant to the mechanisms set forth in our bylaws.

 

   

“E-Jets” refer to narrow-body jets manufactured by Embraer S.A.

 

   

“Embraer” means Embraer S.A.

 

   

“ERISA” means the United States Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended.

 

   

“FAA” means the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

 

   

“FAPESP” means the State of São Paulo Research Foundation (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).

 

   

“FGV” refers to the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (Fundação Getúlio Vargas), a Brazilian higher education institution that was founded in December 1944.

 

   

“financial statements” refers to our audited consolidated financial statements.

 

   

“flight hours” means the number of hours during which the aircraft is in revenue service, measured from the time it takes off until the time it lands at the destination.

 

   

“focus-city” means a destination from which an airline operates several point-to-point routes. A focus-city may also function as a smaller scale hub.

 

   

“FTEs” means full-time equivalent employees.

 

   

“FTEs per aircraft” means the number of FTEs divided by the number of operating aircraft.

 

   

“Global Distribution System” or “GDS” means a system that enables automated transactions between airlines and travel agencies. Travel agencies traditionally rely on GDS for services, products and rates in order to provide travel-related services to end consumers. GDS can link services, rates and bookings consolidating products and services across different travel sectors including airline reservations, hotel reservations and car rentals. GDS charges participant airlines a booking fee per passenger and segment sold, typically applying additional charges for ticketing, credit card authorizations, real time connectivity, information pages and other ancillary services.

 

   

“Gol” means Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A.

 

   

“gross billings” means the result of the sale of points to commercial partners and the cash portion of points plus money transactions. It is not an accounting measurement. This revenue may affect the current period or may be recognized as revenue in future periods, depending on the time of redemption on the part of program participants.

 

   

“Hainan” means Hainan Airlines Holding Co., Ltd.

 

   

“IATA” means the International Air Transport Association.

 

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“IBGE” means the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística).

 

   

“ICAO” means the International Civil Aviation Organization.

 

   

“IFRS” means International Financial Reporting Standards, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board.

 

   

“INFRAERO” means Empresa Brasileira de Infraestrutura Aeroportuária—INFRAERO, a Brazilian state-controlled corporation reporting to the Ministry of Transportation, Ports and Civil Aviation that is in charge of managing, operating and controlling federal airports, including control towers and airport safety operations.

 

   

“Innovata” means Innovata LLC, a provider of travel content management that maintains a flight schedule database in partnership with IATA.

 

   

“INPI” means the Brazilian Institute of Industrial Property (Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial).

 

   

“JetBlue” means JetBlue Airways Corporation.

 

   

“LATAM” means LATAM Airlines Group S.A. including all of its subsidiaries. LATAM was formed in 2012, through the acquisition of TAM S.A., or TAM Linhas Aéreas S.A., by Lan Airlines S.A.

 

   

“load factor” means the percentage of aircraft seats actually occupied on a flight (RPKs divided by ASKs).

 

   

“main competitors” refers to Gol and LATAM, our competitors in the Brazilian market that have a market share larger than ours and publicly disclose their results of operations from time to time. When used in the singular, the term “main competitor” refers to Gol, our only direct competitor for which stand-alone information is publicly available.

 

   

“Multiplus” means Multiplus Fidelidade S.A., LATAM’s loyalty program.

 

   

“Net promoter score (NPS)” means a customer loyalty metric that we use to measure how willing a customer is to recommend our service.

 

   

“on-time performance” refers to the percentage of an airline’s scheduled flights that were operated and that arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

 

   

“operating fleet” means aircraft in service, spare aircraft and aircraft undergoing maintenance.

 

   

“passenger flight segments” means the total number of revenue passengers flown on all revenue flight segments.

 

   

“Petrobras” means Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., a mixed economy corporation in the oil and gas industry that is majority owned by the Brazilian government.

 

   

“pitch” means the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it.

 

   

“PRASK” means passenger revenue divided by ASKs.

 

   

“PRASK premium” refers to the positive difference between an airline’s PRASK and its main competitor’s PRASK over a given time period.

 

   

“preferred shares” means our preferred shares issued and outstanding.

 

   

“principal shareholder” means David Neeleman.

 

   

“RAB” means the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry (Registro Aeronáutico Brasileiro).

 

   

“RASK” or “unit revenue” means operating revenue divided by ASKs.

 

   

“revenue passenger kilometers” or “RPKs” means one-fare paying passenger transported per kilometer. RPK is calculated by multiplying the number of revenue passengers by the number of kilometers flown.

 

   

“route” means a segment between a pair of cities.

 

   

“Shareholders’ Agreement” means that certain shareholders’ agreement, dated September 1, 2017, entered into by and between us and the holders of our common shares, David Neeleman, Hainan and Calfinco.

 

   

“Smiles” means Smiles Fidelidade S.A., Gol’s loyalty program.

 

   

“stage length” means the average number of kilometers flown per flight.

 

   

“TAP” means TAP – Transportes Aéreos Portugueses, SGPS, S.A.

 

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“TAP bonds” means Tranche A 7.5% bonds due March 2026 issued by TAP and convertible into TAP special shares that, once issued, will represent certain capital and voting equity, and which are entitled to a right to receive certain dividends.

 

   

“TRIP” means the entity formerly known as TRIP Linhas Aéreas S.A.

 

   

“TRIP acquisition” means our 2012 acquisition of TRIP.

 

   

“trip cost” represents operating expenses adjusted for non-recurring events divided by departures.

 

   

“TRIP’s former shareholders” means, collectively, the Caprioli family and the Águia Branca Group.

 

   

“TSA” means the United States Transportation Security Administration.

 

   

“United” means United Airlines Inc.

 

   

“Viracopos” means the main airport of Campinas, located approximately 100 km from the city of São Paulo.

 

   

“yield” represents the average amount one passenger pays to fly one kilometer.

Market Share and Other Information

This annual report contains data related to economic conditions in the market in which we operate. The information contained in this annual report concerning economic conditions is based on publicly available information from third-party sources that we believe to be reasonable. Data and statistics regarding the Brazilian civil aviation market are based on publicly available data published by ANAC, INFRAERO, ABRACORP, Ministry of Transportation, Ports and Civil Aviation and Aeroportos Brasil, among others. Data and statistics regarding international civil aviation markets are based on publicly available data published by ICAO or IATA. We also make statements in this annual report about our competitive position and market share in, and the market size of, the Brazilian airline industry. We have made these statements on the basis of statistics and other information from third-party sources that we believe to be reasonable, such as Innovata, ANAC and Dados Comparativos Avançados (Advanced Comparative Data, a monthly report issued by ANAC that contains preliminary information on the number of ASKs and RPKs recorded in the Brazilian civil aviation market), and ABEAR. In addition, we include additional operating and financial information about Gol, LATAM, Smiles and Multiplus, which is derived from the information released publicly by them, including disclosure filed with or furnished to the SEC and other information made available on their respective websites. Although we have no reason to believe any of this information or these reports are inaccurate in any material respect and believe and act as if they are reliable, we have not independently verified it. Governmental publications and other market sources, including those referred to above, generally state that their information was obtained from recognized and reliable sources, but the accuracy and completeness of that information is not guaranteed. In addition, the data that we compile internally and our estimates have not been verified by an independent source.

Presentation of Financial and Other Information

Our audited consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 are included in this annual report. Our financial statements were prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB.

The financial information presented in this annual report should be read in conjunction with our financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report and the section of this annual report entitled “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.”

Convenience Translations

This annual report contains conversions of certain Brazilian real amounts into U.S. dollar amounts at specified rates solely for the convenience of the reader. These conversions should not be construed as representations that the Brazilian real amounts actually represent such U.S. dollar amounts or could be converted into U.S. dollars at the rate or any other exchange rate as of that or any other date. Unless we indicate otherwise, the U.S. dollar equivalent for information in Brazilian reais is based on the commercial selling rate published by the Central Bank of Brazil on December 31, 2018, which was R$3.87 = US$1.00. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York does not report a noon buying rate for Brazilian reais.

 

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Rounding

Certain amounts and percentages included in this annual report, including in the section entitled “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects,” have been rounded for ease of presentation. Percentage figures included in this annual report have not been calculated in all cases on the basis of the rounded figures but on the basis of the original amounts prior to rounding. For this reason, certain percentage amounts in this annual report may vary from those obtained by performing the same calculations using the figures in our financial statements. Certain other amounts that appear in this annual report may not add up due to rounding.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This annual report includes estimates and forward-looking statements principally under the captions “Item 3. Key Information” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.”

These estimates and forward-looking statements are based mainly on our current expectations and estimates of future events and trends that affect or may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flow, liquidity, prospects and the trading price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. Although we believe that these estimates and forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, they are subject to many significant risks, uncertainties and assumptions and are made in light of information currently available to us.

These statements appear throughout this annual report and include statements regarding our intent, belief or current expectations in connection with:

 

   

changes in market prices, customer demand and preferences and competitive conditions;

 

   

general economic, political and business conditions in Brazil, particularly in the geographic markets we serve as well as any other countries we currently serve and may serve in the future;

 

   

our ability to keep costs low;

 

   

existing and future governmental regulations;

 

   

increases in maintenance costs, fuel costs and insurance premiums;

 

   

our ability to maintain landing rights in the airports that we operate;

 

   

air travel substitutes;

 

   

labor disputes, employee strikes and other labor-related disruptions, including in connection with negotiations with unions;

 

   

our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel;

 

   

our aircraft utilization rate;

 

   

defects or mechanical problems with our aircraft;

 

   

our ability to successfully implement our growth strategy, including our expected fleet growth, passenger growth, our capital expenditure plans, our future joint venture and partnership plans, our ability to enter new airports (including certain international airports), that match our operating criteria;

 

   

management’s expectations and estimates concerning our future financial performance and financing;

 

   

plans and programs;

 

   

our level of debt and other fixed obligations;

 

   

our reliance on third parties, including changes in the availability or increased cost of air transport infrastructure and airport facilities;

 

   

inflation, appreciation, depreciation and devaluation of the real;

 

   

our aircraft and engine suppliers; and

 

   

other factors or trends affecting our financial condition or results of operations, including those factors identified or discussed as set forth under “Item 3.D. Risk Factors.”

 

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The words “believe,” “understand,” “may,” “will,” “aim,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “seek,” “intend,” “expect,” “should,” “could,” “forecast” and similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on such statements, which speak only as of the date they were made. Neither we nor the initial purchasers undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any forward-looking statements after we distribute this offering memorandum because of new information, future events or other factors. Our independent public auditors have neither examined nor compiled the forward-looking statements and, accordingly, do not provide any assurance with respect to such statements. In light of the risks and uncertainties described above, the future events and circumstances discussed in this offering memorandum might not occur and are not guarantees of future performance. Because of these uncertainties, you should not make any investment decision based upon these estimates and forward-looking statements.

PART I

 

ITEM 1.

IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2.

OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 3.

KEY INFORMATION

 

A.

Selected Financial Data

The following tables summarize our financial data for each of the periods indicated. You should read this information in conjunction with the items below, all included elsewhere in this annual report:

 

   

our audited consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 and the related notes; and

 

   

the information under “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.”

Our selected financial data included below is derived from our financial statements, which were prepared in accordance with IFRS. Our selected financial data as of December 31, 2018 and 2017 and for each of the three years ended December 31, 2018 is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report. Our financial data as of and for the year ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 has been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements in accordance with IFRS, for the periods indicated.

On January 1, 2018, we adopted the new revenue recognition standard, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, or IFRS 15, which impacted the classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary revenues, such as baggage fees, administrative charges, upgrades and other travel related charges that were previously classified in other revenue to passenger revenue. These ancillary fees are directly related to passenger travel and will no longer be considered distinct performance obligations separate from the passenger travel component. In this context, such ancillary revenues, which were previously recognized when sold, are now recognized when transportation is provided. The impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the year ended December 31, 2017 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements. For more information about these changes, see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

In July 2014, the IASB published the final version of IFRS 9 – Financial Instruments, which superseded IAS 39 – Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement. IFRS 9 is applicable for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018. Except for hedge accounting, retrospective application is required, but comparative information is not required. The Company adopted the new standard on January 1, 2018 and opted not to present comparative information showing retroactively the results from the adoption of IFRS 9. For more information on the impact of IFRS 9 see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

 

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Statements of Operations Data

 

     For the Years Ended December 31,  
     2018     2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  
     (US$)(1)     (R$)     (R$)     (R$)     (R$)     (R$)  
     (in thousands, except amounts per share and %)  

Operating revenue

      

Passenger revenue

     2,237,569       8,670,132       6,695,340       5,786,809       5,575,344       5,129,613  
          

 

 

   

 

 

 

Other revenue

     124,710       483,225       1,094,157       883,082       682,522       673,440  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total revenue(2)

     2,362,279       9,153,357       7,789,497       6,669,891       6,257,866       5,803,053  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating expenses

            

Aircraft fuel

     (682,425     (2,644,261     (1,848,195     (1,560,223     (1,917,606     (1,955,036

Salaries, wages and benefits

     (364,668     (1,413,017     (1,296,166     (1,091,871     (1,042,119     (991,449

Aircraft and other rent

     (389,684     (1,509,947     (1,181,731     (1,160,912     (1,171,325     (689,055

Landing fees

     (152,808     (592,100     (490,569     (442,692     (382,610     (314,402

Traffic and customer servicing

     (102,042     (395,395     (357,841     (327,289     (307,926     (240,783

Sales and marketing

     (95,144     (368,663     (309,540     (276,203     (258,214     (239,359

Maintenance, materials and repairs

     (130,194     (504,477     (568,144     (708,739     (643,897     (353,339

Depreciation and amortization

     (83,850     (324,902     (299,793     (301,201     (217,983     (197,755

Other operating expenses, net

     (225,856     (875,148     (572,497     (456,475     (483,773     (420,949
     (2,226,672     (8,627,909     (6,924,476     (6,325,605     (6,425,453     (5,402,127

Operating income (loss)

     135,606       525,448       865,021       344,286       (167,587     400,926  

Financial result

            

Financial income

     10,683       41,393       94,805       51,067       43,178       41,518  

Financial expense

     (105,865     (410,207     (524,033     (731,200     (685,919     (460,049

Derivative financial instruments, net

     76,931       298,094       (90,171     10,800       (82,792     4,245  

Foreign currency exchange, net

     (50,249     (194,706     57,871       179,668       (184,305     (74,104

Result from related party transactions, net

     88,284       342,083       194,351       163,045              

Net income (loss) before income tax and social contribution

     155,390       602,105       597,844       17,666       (1,077,425     (87,464

Income tax and social contribution

     (2,897     (11,224     2,875       8,731       (1,366     (4,368

Deferred income tax and social contribution

     (44,029     (170,604     (71,680     (152,711     3,886       26,792  

Net (loss) income for the year

     108,464       420,277       529,039       (126,314     (1,074,905     (65,040

Basic (loss) income for the year per common share R$/US$(3)

     0.00       0.02       0.02       (0.01     (0.07     (0.00

Diluted (loss) income for the year per common share R$/US$(3)

     0.00       0.02       0.02       (0.01     (0.07     (0.00

Basic (loss) income for the year per preferred share R$/US$(3)

     0.32       1.24       1.68       (0.55     (5.42     (0.35

Diluted (loss) income for the year per preferred share R$/US$(3)

     0.32       1.23       1.64       (0.55     (5.42     (0.35

 

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Table of Contents
     For the Years Ended December 31,  
     2018      2018      2017      2016      2015     2014  
     (US$)(1)      (R$)      (R$)      (R$)      (R$)     (R$)  
     (in thousands, except amounts per share and %)  

Other financial data (unaudited):

                

EBITDA(4)

     289,970        1,123,574        1,162,061        778,833        (449,148     437,601  

Adjusted EBITDA(5)

     292,568        1,133,644        1,164,814        645,487        50,396       598,681  

Adjusted EBITDAR(6)

     682,252        2,643,591        2,346,545        1,806,399        1,221,721       1,287,736  

Adjusted EBITDAR Margin (%)(7)

     28.7%        28.7%        30.1%        27.1%        19.5%       22.2%  

 

(1)

For convenience purposes only, the amounts in reais for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been translated to U.S. dollars using the rate R$3.87 as of December 31, 2018, which was the commercial selling rate for U.S. dollars as of December 31, 2018, as reported by the Central Bank. These translations should not be considered representations that any such amounts have been, could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at that or at any other exchange rate.

(2)

On January 1, 2018, we adopted IFRS 15, which impacted the classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary items such as bags, upgrades, itinerary changes and other air travel-related fees. For more information about these changes, see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements. Prior periods are in accordance with IAS 11 and IAS 18. The pro-forma impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the year ended December 31, 2017 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

(3)

Reflects the conversion ratio of 75.0 common shares to 1.0 preferred share and a two-for-one stock split on February 23, 2017.

(4)

We calculate EBITDA as net income (loss) minus interest income (comprised of interest on short-term investments), plus interest expense (comprised of interest on loans and interest on factoring credit card and travel agencies receivables), current and deferred income tax and social contribution and depreciation and amortization. We believe EBITDA is a well-recognized performance measurement in the airline industry that is frequently used by investors, securities analysts and other interested parties in comparing the operating performance of companies in our industry. EBITDA is not a measure of financial performance in accordance with IFRS, and should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to net income, an alternative to operating cash flows, a measure of liquidity, or the basis for dividend distribution. Other companies may calculate EBITDA differently than us. EBITDA serves an indicator of overall financial performance, which is not affected by changes in rates of income tax and social contribution or levels of depreciation and amortization. Consequently, we believe that EBITDA serves as an important tool to periodically compare our operating performance, as well as to support certain administrative decision. Because EBITDA does not include certain costs related to our business, such as interest expense, income taxes, depreciation, capital expenditures and other corresponding charges, which might significantly affect our net income, EBITDA has limitations which affect its use as an indicator of our profitability. See “Introduction—Presentation of Financial and Other Information” for a reconciliation of EBITDA to net income (loss).

(5)

Adjusted EBITDA is equal to EBITDA adjusted to exclude foreign currency exchange, net, derivative financial instruments, net, other financial income (expense), and result from related party transactions, net. Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure of financial performance in accordance with IFRS, and should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to net income, an alternative to operating cash flows, a measure of liquidity, or the basis for dividend distribution. Other companies may calculate Adjusted EBITDA differently than us. Adjusted EBITDA serves as an indicator of overall financial performance that we believe serves as an important tool to periodically compare our operating performance, as well as to support certain administrative decisions. Because Adjusted EBITDA does not include certain costs related to our business, it has limitations which affect its use as an indicator of our profitability. See “Introduction—Presentation of Financial and Other Information” for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income (loss).

(6)

Adjusted EBITDAR is equal to Adjusted EBITDA adjusted to exclude the expenses related to aircraft and other rent expenses. Adjusted EBITDAR is presented as supplemental information, because (i) we believe EBITDAR is a valuation metric traditionally used by aviation analysts and investors to determine the equity value of airlines and (ii) EBITDAR is one of the measures used in our debt financing instruments for financial reporting purposes. We believe EBITDAR is useful for equity valuation purposes because (i) its calculation isolates the effects of financing in general, as well as the accounting effects of capital spending and acquisitions (primarily aircraft) which may be acquired directly subject to acquisition debt (loans and finance leases) or by operating leases, each of which is presented differently for accounting purposes and (ii) using a multiple of EBITDAR to calculate enterprise value allows for an adjustment to the balance sheet to recognize estimated liabilities arising from off-balance sheet operating leases. However, Adjusted EBITDAR is not a financial measure in accordance with IFRS, and should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to net income, an alternative to operating cash flows, a measure of liquidity, or the basis for dividend distribution because it excludes the cost of aircraft and other rent and is provided for the limited purposes contained herein. Other companies may calculate Adjusted EBITDAR differently than us. Adjusted EBITDAR should not be viewed as a measure of overall performance since it excludes aircraft rent, which is a normal, recurring cash operating expense. Adjusted EBITDAR has significant limitations which affect its use as an indicator of our profitability. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on this information. For more information on the limitations of Adjusted EBITDAR as an analytical tool, see “Introduction—Presentation of Financial and Other Information.” As for the use of EBITDAR in our debt financing instruments, see “Item 5.B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Loans and Financings.”

(7)

Represents Adjusted EBITDAR divided by total operating revenue.

 

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The following table presents the reconciliation of the non-IFRS performance measures EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA and the valuation metric Adjusted EBITDAR to net income (loss) for the periods indicated below:

 

     For the Years Ended December 31,  
     2018(1)     2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  
     (US$)     (R$)     (R$)     (R$)     (R$)     (R$)  
     (in thousands, except Adjusted EBITDAR margin)  

Reconciliation:

            

Net income (loss) for the year

     108,464       420,277       529,039       (126,314     (1,074,905     (65,040

Plus (minus):

            

Interest expense(2)

     58,974       228,514       315,028       497,557       450,960       364,255  

Interest income(3)

     (8,245     (31,947     (50,604     (37,591     (40,666     (36,945

Income tax and social contribution

     2,897       11,224       (2,875     (8,731     1,366       4,368  

Deferred income tax and social contribution

     44,029       170,604       71,680       152,711       (3,886     (26,792

Depreciation and amortization

     83,850       324,902       299,793       301,201       217,983       197,755  

EBITDA(4)

     289,970       1,123,574       1,162,061       778,833       (449,148     437,601  

Foreign currency exchange, net(5)

     50,249       194,706       (57,871     (179,668     184,305       74,104  

Derivative financial instruments, net(6)

     76,931       298,094       90,171       (10,800     82,792       (4,245

Other financial expenses(7)

     46,891       181,693       209,005       233,643       234,959       95,794  

Other financial income(8)

     (2,438     (9,446     (44,201     (13,476     (2,512     (4,573

Result from related party transactions, net

     (88,284     (342,083     (194,351     (163,045            

Non-recurring events

     73,112       283,294                          

Adjusted EBITDA(4)(9)

     292,568       1,133,644       1,164,814       645,487       50,396       598,681  

Aircraft and other rent

     389,684       1,509,947       1,181,731       1,160,912       1,171,325       689,055  

Adjusted EBITDAR(10)

     682,252       2,642,591       2,346,545       1,806,399       1,221,721       1,287,736  

Adjusted EBITDAR Margin (%)(11)

     28.7%       28.7%       30.1%       27.1%       19.5%       22.2%  

 

(1)

For convenience purposes only, the amounts in reais for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been translated to U.S. dollars using the rate R$3.87 as of December 31, 2018, which was the commercial selling rate for U.S. dollars as of December 31, 2018, as reported by the Central Bank. These translations should not be considered representations that any such amounts have been, could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at that or at any other exchange rate.

(2)

Interest expense is interest on loans and interest on factoring credit card, and travel agencies receivables, which is a component of financial expense. See “Note 23. Other operating expenses, net” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

(3)

Interest income is interest on short-term investments, which is a component of financial income. See Note 23 to our audited consolidated financial statements.

(4)

EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA, as calculated by us, may not be comparable to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA as used by other companies which may calculate Adjusted EBITDA in a manner which differs from ours. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are not measures of financial performance in accordance with IFRS. They do not represent cash flow for the corresponding periods, and should not be considered as alternatives to net income or loss or as measures of operating performance, cash flow or liquidity, nor should they be considered for the calculation of dividend distribution.

(5)

Represents the foreign exchange remeasurement on U.S. dollar and Euro denominated assets and liabilities.

(6)

Represents currency forward contracts used to protect our U.S. dollar exposure.

(7)

Other financial expenses are a component of our financial expense. See “Note 23. Other operating expenses, net” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

(8)

Other financial income is a component of our financial income. See “Note 23. Other operating expenses, net” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

(9)

Adjustments exclude the effects of the following items: (i) the foreign currency exchange variation relating to U.S. dollars denominated assets and liabilities; (ii) gains or losses in connection with our derivative instruments used to protect us against variations of the U.S. dollar compared to the real; (iii) other financial expenses (does not include interest expense), which is a component of financial expense; (iv) other financial income and fair value adjustment of other financial liabilities (does not include interest income), which are components of financial income; and (v) related party transactions, net (as applicable). We believe that such adjustments are useful to indicate our operating performance.

(10)

Adjusted EBITDAR is equal to Adjusted EBITDA adjusted to exclude the expenses related to aircraft and other rent expenses. Adjusted EBITDAR is presented as supplemental information, because (i) we believe EBITDAR is a valuation metric traditionally used by aviation analysts and investors to determine the equity value of airlines and (ii) EBITDAR is one of the measures used in our debt financing instruments for financial reporting purposes. We believe EBITDAR is useful for equity valuation purposes because (i) its calculation isolates the effects of financing in general, as well as the accounting effects of capital spending and acquisitions (primarily aircraft) which may be acquired directly subject to acquisition debt (loans and finance leases) or by operating leases, each of which is presented differently for accounting purposes and (ii) using a multiple of EBITDAR to calculate enterprise value allows for an adjustment to the balance sheet to recognize estimated liabilities arising from off-balance sheet operating leases. However, Adjusted EBITDAR is not a financial measure in accordance with IFRS, and should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to net income, an alternative to operating cash flows, a measure of liquidity, or the basis for dividend distribution because it excludes the cost of aircraft and other rent and is provided for the limited purposes contained herein. Other companies may calculate Adjusted EBITDAR differently than us. Adjusted EBITDAR should not be viewed as a measure of overall performance since it excludes aircraft rent, which is a normal, recurring cash operating expense. Adjusted EBITDAR has significant limitations which affect its use as an indicator of our profitability. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on this information. For more information on the limitations of Adjusted EBITDAR as an analytical tool, see “Introduction—Presentation of Financial and Other Information.” As for the use of EBITDAR in our debt financing instruments, see “Item 5.B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Loans and Financings.”

(11)

Represents Adjusted EBITDAR divided by total operating revenue.

 

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Note Regarding the Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

The Company provides financial information in this filing that was not prepared in accordance with IFRS and should not be considered as an alternative to the information prepared in accordance with IFRS. This financial information, which has not been prepared in accordance with IFRS, has been denominated non-GAAP measures (Non Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). The Company provides supplemental non-IFRS financial information, which the Company’s management utilizes to evaluate its ongoing financial performance and the Company believes provides additional insight to investors as supplemental information to its IFRS results. The following measures are often provided, and utilized by the Company’s management, analysts, and investors to enhance comparability of year-over-year results, as well as to compare results to other airlines: EBITDA, non-IFRS; Adjusted EBITDA, non-IFRS; Adjusted EBITDAR, non-IFRS; Available seat kilometers (ASKs), non-IFRS; Passenger revenue per ASK (PRASKs), non-IFRS; Operating revenue per ASK (RASK), non-IFRS; and total operating cost divided by ASK (CASK) non-IFRS amongst others.

Balance Sheet Data

The following tables present key line items from our historical balance sheet data:

 

     As of December 31,  
     2018(1)      2018      2017      2016      2015     2014  
     (US$)      (R$)      (R$)      (R$)      (R$)     (R$)  
     (in thousands)  

Cash and cash equivalents

     301,728        1,169,136        762,319        549,164        636,505       388,959  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total assets

     3,043,565        11,793,206        10,316,616        8,400,409        7,839,164       6,239,199  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Loans and financing(2)

     956,442        3,706,22        3,489,887        4,034,495        4,810,945       3,259,184  

Equity

     816,481        3,163,700        2,833,610        1,001,987        (392,169     416,495  

Issued capital

     570,201        2,209,415        2,163,377        1,488,601        479,423       474,001  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total liabilities and equity

     3,043,565        11,793,206        10,316,616        8,400,409        7,839,164       6,239,199  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1)

For convenience purposes only, the amounts in reais for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been translated to U.S. dollars using the rate R$3.87 as of December 31, 2018, which was the commercial selling rate for U.S. dollars as of December 31, 2018 as reported by the Central Bank. These translations should not be considered representations that any such amounts have been, could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at that or at any other exchange rate.

(2)

Includes current and non-current loans and financing.

Operating Data

 

     As of and For the Years Ended December 31,  
     Unaudited  
     2018(1)     2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  

Operating Statistics (unaudited):

            

Operating aircraft at end of period

     125       125       122       123       144       138  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total aircraft at end of period

     143       143       147       139       152       153  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Cities served at end of period

     110       110       104       102       102       106  

Average daily aircraft utilization (hours)

     10.4       10.4       10.5       10.1       9.5       9.6  

Stage length (km)

     1,006       1,006       905       848       830       727  

Number of departures

     262,312       262,312       259,966       261,611       280,832       283,755  

Block hours

     433,945       433,945       407,416       403,888       435,683       422,873  

Passenger flight segments

     23,122,440       23,122,440       22,014,009       20,619,707       21,794,939       20,409,931  

Revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) (million)

     24,156       24,156       20,760       18,236       18,636       15,671  

Available seat kilometers (ASKs) (millions)

     29,353       29,353       25,300       22,869       23,423       19,747  

Load Factor (%)

     82.3     82.3     82.1     79.7     79.6     79.4

Passenger revenue (in thousands)

     US$2,237,569       8,670,132       R$6,695,340       R$5,786,809       R$5,575,344       R$5,129,613  

Passenger revenue per ASK (cents) (PRASK) (2)

     US$7.62       29.54       R$26.46       R$25.30       R$23.80       R$25.98  

 

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     As of and For the Years Ended December 31,  
     Unaudited  
     2018(1)      2018      2017      2016      2015      2014  

Operating revenue per ASK (cents) (RASK) (2)

     US$8.05        31.18        R$30.79        R$29.17        R$26.72        R$29.39  

Yield per ASK (cents)

     US$9.26        35.89        R$32.25        R$31.73        R$29.92        R$32.73  

Trip cost

     US$8,260        32,007        R$26,636        R$24,179        R$22,880        R$19,038  

End-of-period FTEs per aircraft

     94        94        89        84        73        76  

CASK (cents)

     US$7.59        29.39        R$27.37        R$27.66        R$27.43        R$27.36  

CASK ex-fuel (cents)(3)

     US$5.26        20.39        R$20.06        R$20.84        R$19.25        R$17.46  

CASK ex-fuel adjusted (cents)(4)

     US$5.06        19.59        R$20.06        R$20.84        R$19.25        R$17.46  

Fuel liters consumed (thousands)

     1,033,712        1,033,712        939,907        880,941        906,778        789,150  

Average fuel cost per liter

     US$0.66        2.56        R$1.97        R$1.77        R$2.11        R$2.48  

 

(1)

For convenience purposes only, the amounts in reais for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been translated to U.S. dollars using the rate R$3.87 as of December 31, 2018, which was the commercial selling rate for U.S. dollars as of December 31, 2018, as reported by the Central Bank. These translations should not be considered representations that any such amounts have been, could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at that or at any other exchange rate.

(2)

On January 1, 2018, we adopted IFRS 15, which impacted classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary items such as bags, upgrades, itinerary changes and other air travel-related fees. For more information about these changes, see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements. Prior periods are in accordance with IAS 11 and IAS 18. The pro-forma impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the year ended December 31, 2017 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

(3)

CASK (ex-fuel) means CASK excluding all fuel costs.

(4)

CASK ex-fuel adjusted for non-recurring costs related to aircraft sale and the 2018 truckers’ strike.

 

B.

Capitalization and Indebtedness

The table below presents our consolidated capitalization as of December 31, 2018 on a historical basis. The information presented below is derived from our consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2018. This table should be read in conjunction with, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to “Item 5.B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Loans and Financings,” “Item 3.A. Selected Financial Data and “Item 5—Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report.

 

     Actual  
     US$(1)      R$  
     (in thousands)  

Current loans and financing

     86,469        335,051  

Noncurrent loans and financing

     869,973        3,370,971  

Current derivative financial instruments liability

     46,706        180,975  

Noncurrent derivative financial instruments liability

     67,105        260,019  

Total equity

     816,481        3,163,700  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total capitalization(2)

     1,886,734        7,310,716  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1)

For convenience purposes only, the amounts in reais for the year ended December 31, 2018 have been translated to U.S. dollars using the rate R$3.87 as of December 31, 2018, which was the commercial selling rate for U.S. dollars as of December 31, 2018, as reported by the Central Bank. These translations should not be considered representations that any such amounts have been, could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at that or at any other exchange rate.

(2)

Total capitalization corresponds to the sum of current and noncurrent loans and financing, current and noncurrent derivative financial instruments and total equity.

 

C.

Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

 

D.

Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the risks described below. We could be materially and adversely affected by any of these risks.

The risks described below are those that we currently believe may adversely affect us. In general, investing in the securities of issuers in emerging market countries such as Brazil involves risks that are different from the risks associated with investing in the securities of U.S. companies and companies located in other countries with more developed capital markets.

To the extent that information relates to, or is obtained from sources related to, the Brazilian government or Brazilian macroeconomic data, industry data or other third parties, the following information has been extracted from official publications of the Brazilian government or other reliable third party sources and has not been independently verified by us.

 

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Risks Relating to Brazil

The Brazilian federal government has exercised, and continues to exercise, significant influence over the Brazilian economy. This involvement as well as Brazil’s political and economic conditions could harm us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

The Brazilian federal government frequently exercises significant influence over the Brazilian economy and occasionally makes significant changes in policy and regulations. The Brazilian government’s actions to control inflation and other policies and regulations have often involved, among other measures, increases in interest rates, changes in tax policies, price controls, foreign exchange rate controls, currency devaluations, capital controls and limits on imports. We have no control over and cannot predict what measures or policies the Brazilian government may take in the future. We and the market price of our securities may be adversely affected by changes in Brazilian government policies, as well as general economic factors, including, without limitation:

 

   

growth or downturn of the Brazilian economy;

 

   

interest rates and monetary policies;

 

   

exchange rates and currency fluctuations;

 

   

inflation;

 

   

liquidity of the domestic capital and lending markets;

 

   

import and export controls;

 

   

exchange controls and restrictions on remittances abroad;

 

   

modifications to laws and regulations according to political, social and economic interests;

 

   

fiscal policy and changes in tax laws;

 

   

economic, political and social instability;

 

   

labor and social security regulations;

 

   

energy and water shortages and rationing;

 

   

the Brazilian government’s intervention, modification or rescission of existing concessions;

 

   

the Brazilian government’s control of or influence on the control of certain oil producing and refining companies; and

 

   

other political, social and economic developments in or affecting Brazil.

In addition, Brazil has experienced a recession from 2014 to 2016 and although macroeconomic conditions have improved in 2017 and 2018, the Brazilian federal government is facing mounting pressure to implement economic reforms, see —“Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Principal Factors Affecting Our Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” We cannot predict what measures the Brazilian federal government will take in the face of mounting macroeconomic pressures or otherwise.

Developments in Brazil’s political landscape, such as presidential elections held in October 2018, may also impact us. Uncertainty over whether the current Brazilian federal government will implement changes in policy or regulation affecting these or other factors in the future may affect economic performance and contribute to economic uncertainty in Brazil, which may have an adverse effect on us and our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. Recent economic and political instability has led to a negative perception of the Brazilian economy and higher volatility in the Brazilian securities markets, which also may adversely affect us and the trading price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. See “—The ongoing economic uncertainty and political instability in Brazil may adversely affect us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.”

The ongoing economic uncertainty and political instability in Brazil may adversely affect us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Brazil’s political environment has historically influenced, and continues to influence, the performance of the country’s economy. Political crises have affected and continue to affect the confidence of investors and the general public, which have historically resulted in economic deceleration and heightened volatility in the securities issued by Brazilian companies.

 

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The recent economic instability in Brazil has contributed to a decline in market confidence in the Brazilian economy as well as to a deteriorating political environment. In addition, various ongoing investigations into allegations of money laundering and corruption being conducted by the Office of the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor, including the largest such investigation, known as Lava Jato, have negatively impacted the Brazilian economy and political environment. Members of the Brazilian government, as well as senior officers of large state-owned companies, have faced or are currently facing allegations or convictions of, or have entered into plea bargain or leniency agreements for crimes related to crimes of political of corruption and money laundering. These individuals are alleged to have accepted bribes by means of kickbacks on contracts granted by the government to several infrastructure, oil and gas and construction companies. The profits of these kickbacks allegedly financed the political campaigns of political parties of the government that were unaccounted for or not publicly disclosed. These funds were also allegedly destined toward the personal enrichment of certain individuals. A number of senior politicians, including members of Congress, and high-ranking executives officers of major corporations and state-owned companies in Brazil have been arrested, convicted of various charges relating to corruption, entered into plea agreements with federal prosecutors and/or have resigned or been removed from their positions. The potential outcome of Lava Jato, as well as other ongoing corruption-related investigations is uncertain, but they have already had an adverse impact on the image and reputation of those companies that have been implicated as well as on the general market perception of the Brazilian economy, political environment and the Brazilian capital markets. We have no control over, and cannot predict, whether such investigations, allegations, convictions, plea bargains and agreements will lead to further political and economic instability or whether new allegations, convictions, plea bargaining or agreements against or with government officials, officers and/or companies will arise in the future. In addition, we cannot predict the outcome of any such allegations, convictions, plea bargains and agreements, nor their effect on the Brazilian economy.

President Dilma Rousseff was suspended from office on May 12, 2016, when the Brazilian Senate voted to hold a trial on impeachment charges against her. President Rousseff was replaced by Vice-President Michel Temer, who served as acting President until Ms. Rousseff was permanently removed from office by the Senate on August 31, 2016 for infringing budgetary laws. Michel Temer then became President for the remainder of the presidential term until December 2018. In June 2017, the Brazilian Higher Electoral Court (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral) cleared the electoral alliance formed by Ms. Rousseff and Mr. Temer of charges that it had violated campaign finance laws in the 2014 election. Despite this, Mr. Temer remains the subject of investigations by the Brazilian Federal Police and the Office of the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor relating to allegations of corruption. We cannot predict how the ongoing investigations and proceedings will affect us or the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADRs.

In October 2018, Jair Bolsonaro was elected president, and his term began in January 2019. Although Mr. Bolsonaro has promised in his campaign to implement economic reforms, we cannot predict which policies the new President of Brazil may adopt or change during his mandate or the effect that any such policies might have on our business and on the Brazilian economy. Any such new policies or changes to current policies may have a material adverse effect on us or the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADRs. Furthermore, uncertainty over whether the acting Brazilian government under the new administration will implement changes in policy or regulation in the future may contribute to economic uncertainty in Brazil and to heightened volatility in the securities issued abroad by Brazilian companies.

In addition, political demonstrations in Brazil over the last few years have affected the development of the Brazilian economy and investors’ perceptions of Brazil. For example, street protests, which started in mid-2013 and continued through 2016, demonstrated the public’s dissatisfaction with the worsening Brazilian economic condition (including an increase in inflation and fuel prices, as well as rising unemployment), the perception of widespread corruption, and the potential for severe water and electricity rationing following a decrease in rainfall and water reservoir levels throughout Brazil in early 2016.

Any of the above factors may create additional political uncertainty, which could have a material adverse effect on the Brazilian economy and, consequently, on us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Exchange rate instability may have adverse effects on the Brazilian economy, us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

The Brazilian currency has been historically volatile and has devalued frequently over the past three decades. Throughout this period, the Brazilian government has implemented various economic plans and used various exchange rate policies, including sudden devaluations, periodic mini-devaluations (during which the frequency of adjustments has ranged from daily to monthly), exchange controls, dual exchange rate markets and a floating exchange rate system. Although long-term depreciation of the real is generally linked to the rate of inflation in Brazil, depreciation of the real occurring over shorter periods has resulted in significant variations in the exchange rate between the real, the U.S. dollar and other currencies. The real depreciated against the U.S. dollar by 1.8% at year-end 2017 as compared to year-end 2016. The real/U.S. dollar exchange rate reported by the Central Bank was R$3.31 per U.S. dollar on December 31, 2017, and R$3.87 per U.S. dollar on December 31, 2018, reflecting a 17.1% depreciation in the real against the U.S. dollar. There can be no assurance that the real will not depreciate against the U.S. dollar or other currencies in the future.

 

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A devaluation of the real relative to the U.S. dollar could create inflationary pressures in Brazil and cause the Brazilian government to, among other measures, increase interest rates. Any depreciation of the real may generally restrict access to the international capital markets. It would also reduce the U.S. dollar value of our results. Restrictive macroeconomic policies could reduce the stability of the Brazilian economy and adversely affect our results of operations and profitability. In addition, domestic and international reactions to restrictive economic policies could have a negative impact on the Brazilian economy. These policies and any reactions to them may adversely affect us by curtailing access to foreign financial markets and prompting further government intervention. A devaluation of the real relative to the U.S. dollar may also, as in the context of the current economic slowdown, decrease consumer spending, increase deflationary pressures and reduce economic growth.

On the other hand, an appreciation of the real relative to the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies may deteriorate the Brazilian foreign exchange current accounts. We and certain of our suppliers purchase goods and services from countries outside Brazil, and thus changes in the value of the U.S. dollar compared to other currencies may affect the costs of goods and services that we purchase. Depending on the circumstances, either devaluation or appreciation of the real relative to the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies could restrict the growth of the Brazilian economy, as well as our business, results of operations and profitability.

Most of our revenues are linked to the real and a significant part of our operating expenses, such as fuel, certain aircraft operating lease agreements, certain flight hour maintenance contracts and aircraft insurance, are denominated in, or linked to, foreign currency. In addition, we have and may incur substantial amounts of U.S. dollar-denominated operating lease or financial obligations, fuel costs linked to the U.S. dollar and U.S. dollar-denominated indebtedness in the future or similar exposures to other foreign currencies. As of December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, 55.3%, 52.7% and 53.4% of our operating expenses, respectively, were denominated in, or linked to, foreign currency.

We are not always fully-hedged against fluctuations of the real. In light of the foregoing, there can be no assurance we will be able to protect ourselves against the effects of fluctuations of the real. Depreciation of the real could create inflationary pressures in Brazil and cause increases in interest rates, which could negatively affect the growth of the Brazilian economy as a whole, harm us, curtail access to financial markets and prompt government intervention, including recessionary governmental policies. Depreciation of the real can also, as in the context of the current global economic recovery, lead to decreased consumer spending, and reduced growth of the economy as a whole.

Any depreciation of the real against the U.S. dollar may have an adverse effect on us, including leading to a decrease in our profit margins or to operating losses caused by increases in U.S. dollar-denominated costs (including fuel costs), increases in interest expense or exchange losses on unhedged fixed obligations and indebtedness denominated in foreign currency.

Inflation and certain measures by the Brazilian government to curb inflation have historically adversely affected the Brazilian economy and Brazilian capital market, and high levels of inflation in the future would adversely affect us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

In the past, Brazil has experienced extremely high rates of inflation. Inflation and some of the measures taken by the Brazilian government in an attempt to curb inflation have had significant negative effects on the Brazilian economy generally. Inflation, policies adopted to curb inflationary pressures and uncertainties regarding possible future governmental intervention have contributed to economic uncertainty and heightened volatility in the Brazilian capital markets.

According to the National Consumer Price Index (Índice Nacional de Preços ao Consumidor Amplo), or IPCA, Brazilian inflation rates were 3.8%, 2.9%, 6.3%, 10.7% and 6.4% for the years 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 and 2014, respectively. Brazil may experience high levels of inflation in the future and inflationary pressures may lead to the Brazilian government’s intervening in the economy and introducing policies that could adversely affect us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. In the past, the Brazilian government’s interventions included the maintenance of a restrictive monetary policy with high interest rates that restricted credit availability and reduced economic growth, causing volatility in interest rates. For example, the SELIC (Sistema Especial de Liquidação e Custódia), the Central Bank’s overnight rate, as established by the Monetary Policy Committee (Comitê de Política Monetária do Banco Central do Brasil), or COPOM, increased from 10.00% at the beginning of 2014 to a high point of 14.25% in 2016 before a series of rate reductions in 2017 and 2018, bringing the SELIC rate down to 7.00% as of December 31, 2017 and to 6.50% as of December 31, 2018. Conversely, more lenient government and Central Bank policies and interest rate decreases have triggered and may continue to trigger increases in inflation, and, consequently, growth volatility and the need for sudden and significant interest rate increases, which could negatively affect us and increase our indebtedness.

 

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In the event that Brazil experiences high inflation in the future, we may not be able to adjust the prices we charge our passengers to offset the potential impacts of inflation on our expenses, including salaries. This would lead to decreased net income, adversely affecting us. Inflationary pressures may also adversely affect our ability to access foreign financial markets, adversely affecting us.

Developments and the perceptions of risks in other countries, including other emerging markets, the United States and Europe, may adversely affect the Brazilian economy and the price of Brazilian securities, including the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

The market for securities issued by Brazilian companies is influenced by economic and market conditions in Brazil and, to varying degrees, market conditions in other Latin American and emerging markets, as well as the United States, Europe and other countries. To the extent the conditions of the global markets or economy deteriorate, Brazilian companies may have their businesses adversely affected. The weakness in the global economy has been marked by, among other adverse factors, lower levels of consumer and corporate confidence, decreased business investment and consumer spending, increased unemployment, reduced income and asset values, reduction of China’s growth rate, currency volatility and limited availability of credit and access to capital. Developments or economic conditions in other emerging market countries have at times significantly affected the availability of credit to Brazilian companies and resulted in considerable outflows of funds from Brazil, decreasing the amount of foreign investments in Brazil.

Crises and political instability in other emerging market countries, the United States, Europe or other countries could decrease investor demand for Brazilian securities, such as our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. In June 2016, the United Kingdom had a referendum in which the majority voted to leave the European Union. We have no control over and cannot predict the effect of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union nor over whether and to which effect any other member state will decide to exit the European Union in the future. On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump became the President of the United States. We have no control over and cannot predict the effects of Donald Trump’s administration or policies. These developments, as well as potential crises and forms of political instability arising therefrom or any other as of yet unforeseen development, may adversely affect us and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Any further downgrading of Brazil’s credit rating could adversely affect the trading price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

We can be adversely affected by investors’ perceptions of risks related to Brazil’s sovereign debt credit rating. Rating agencies regularly evaluate Brazil and its sovereign ratings, which are based on a number of factors including macroeconomic trends, fiscal and budgetary conditions, indebtedness metrics and the perspective of changes in any of these factors.

Brazil has lost its investment grade sovereign debt credit rating by the three main U.S. based credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Brazil’s sovereign debt credit rating from BBB- to BB+ in September 2015, subsequently reduced it to BB in February 2016, and maintained its negative outlook on the rating, citing Brazil’s fiscal difficulties and economic contraction as signs of a worsening credit situation. In December 2015, Moody’s placed Brazil’s Baa3 sovereign debt credit rating on review and downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating in February 2016 to Ba2 with a negative outlook, citing the prospect for further deterioration in Brazil’s indebtedness figures amid a recession and challenging political environment. Fitch downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating to BB+ with a negative outlook in December 2015, citing the country’s rapidly expanding budget deficit and worse-than-expected recession, and further downgraded Brazil’s sovereign debt credit rating in May 2016 to BB with a negative outlook. On January 11, 2018 Standard and Poor’s downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating due to concerns over a large deficit, stalled pension reform and presidential elections. On February 23, 2018, Fitch further downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating to BB-minus with a stable outlook. On April 9, 2018, Moody’s reaffirmed the Ba2 rating, but raised the outlook from negative to stable, citing expectations that the winner of the October 2018 presidential elections will pass fiscal reforms.

Brazil’s sovereign credit rating is currently rated below investment grade by the three main credit rating agencies. Consequently, the prices of securities issued by Brazilian companies have been negatively affected. A new Brazilian recession or continued political uncertainty, among other factors, could lead to further ratings downgrades. Any further downgrade of Brazil’s sovereign credit ratings could heighten investors’ perception of risk and, as a result, adversely affect the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

 

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Variations in interest rates may have adverse effects on us.

We are exposed to the risk of interest rate variations, principally in relation to the Interbank Deposit Rate, or CDI Rate, and with respect to operating and finance leases and debt-financed aircraft denominated in U.S. dollars, the London Interbank Offer Rate, or LIBOR.

If the CDI Rate or LIBOR were to increase, our repayments under certain loans, operating and finance leases would increase, and we may not be able to adjust the prices we charge to offset increased payments. For example, our repayments under some of our operating and finance leases and debt-financed aircraft are linked to LIBOR. The outstanding loan balance due on our finance lease and debt-financed aircraft contracts linked to LIBOR amounted to R$1,049.9 million as of December 31, 2018, R$1,232.6 million as of December 31, 2017 and R$1,769.5 million as of December 2016.

Significant increases in consumption, inflation or other macroeconomic pressures may lead to an increase in these rates. Increases in the CDI Rate or LIBOR may have adverse effects on us. An increase of 0.5% in the CDI Rate would represent additional expenses in interest rates of R$13.0 million per year. On the other hand, an increase of 0.5% in LIBOR would represent additional expenses in interest rates of R$4.6 million. For further information regarding our exposure to the risk of interest rate variations, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospect—Operating Results—Principal Factors Affecting Our Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Effects of exchange rates, interest rates and inflation.”

In addition, various interest rates and other indices which are deemed to be “benchmarks” (including LIBOR and Euro Interbank Offered Rate, or EURIBOR) are the subject of recent national, international and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. Some of these reforms are already effective whilst others are still to be implemented, including the majority of the provisions of the EU Benchmark Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/1011), or the Benchmarks Regulation.

In particular, in 2017, the Chief Executive of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, announced that the FCA will no longer persuade or compel banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. This announcement indicates that the continuation of LIBOR on the current basis cannot and will not be guaranteed after 2021, and it appears likely that LIBOR will be discontinued or modified by 2021. This and other reforms may cause benchmarks to perform differently than in the past, or to disappear entirely, or have other consequences, which cannot be fully anticipated, which introduce a number of risks for us including legal risks arising from potential changes required to documentation for new and existing transactions, financial risks arising from any changes in the valuation of financial instruments linked to benchmark rates, pricing risks arising from how changes to benchmark indices could impact pricing mechanisms on some instruments, operational risks arising from the potential requirement to adapt information technology systems, trade reporting infrastructure and operational processes, and conduct risks arising from the potential impact of communication with counterparties and engagement during the transition period. The replacement benchmarks and the timing of and mechanisms for implementation have not yet been confirmed by central banks. Accordingly, it is not currently possible to determine whether, or to what extent, any such changes would affect us. However, the implementation of alternative benchmark rates may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.

Deficiencies in Brazilian infrastructure, particularly in airports and ports, may adversely affect us.

We offer products and services that depend on the performance and reliability of the infrastructure in Brazil and abroad. Historically, public investment in the construction and development of airports, ports, highways and railroads has been relatively low, which affects the demand for domestic tourism and could also affect our ability to carry out our operations or limit our expansion plans as well as cause delays and increase operational costs. For example, in 2007, Brazil went through a significant crisis related to its air traffic control system, which negatively impacted air travel and the tourism industry as a whole. Insufficient public and/or private investment in the expansion of Brazilian infrastructure, particularly airports, ports and other travel hubs could lead to a decrease in sales or lower growth rates than we expect, which may adversely affect us and growth prospects. In particular, lack of or insufficient investment in the maintenance at our main hub in Campinas could impact the general activity and operation of the airport, which would adversely impact us. For example, Aeroportos Brasil, which holds a concession for the operation of Viracopos airport from ANAC, has not complied with its contractual obligations relating to the construction of a new terminal and has announced its intention to return the concession for the operation of Viracopos airport to ANAC and ANAC has formally initiated a re-bidding process for the concession to a new operator. According to publicly available information, this process of re-bidding is currently on hold. For more information, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Airports and Other Facilities and Properties—Airports” and “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal Proceedings.”

 

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Risks Relating to our Business and the Brazilian Civil Aviation Industry

Substantial fluctuations in fuel costs or the unavailability of fuel, which is mostly provided by one supplier, would have an adverse effect on us.

Historically, international and local fuel prices have been subject to wide price fluctuations based on geopolitical issues and supply and demand. Fuel expenses, which at times in 2007 and 2008 were at historically high levels, constitute a significant portion of our total operating expenses, accounting for 30.6% as of December 31, 2018, 26.7% as of December 31, 2017 and 24.7% as of December 31, 2016. Fuel availability is also subject to periods of market surplus and shortage and is affected by demand for both home heating oil and gasoline. Events resulting from prolonged instability in the Middle East or other oil-producing regions, or the suspension of production by any significant producer, may result in substantial price increases and/or make it difficult to obtain adequate supplies, which may adversely affect us. Natural disasters or other large unexpected disrupting events in regions that normally consume significant amounts of other energy sources could have a similar effect. The price and future availability of fuel cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty, and significant increases in fuel prices may harm our business. Our hedging activities may not be sufficient to protect us from fuel price increases, and we may not be able to adjust our fares adequately to protect us from this cost.

We purchase fuel from a number of distributors in Brazil, principally from BR Distribuidora, a subsidiary of Petrobras, Air BP Brasil Ltda. and Raízen Combustíveis Ltda., with whom we have agreements to exclusively purchase all of our jet fuel needs in certain locations. As of December 2018, BR Distribuidora provided 60% of our fuel and was entitled to terminate its fuel supply contracts with us for a number of reasons, including (i) non-compliance with any contractual obligation, (ii) non-payment of invoices up to 60 days after expiration and (iii) in the event of our judicial or extrajudicial liquidation. In addition, BR Distribuidora may be unable to guarantee its fuel supply to us, for example due to difficulties in its production, import, refining or distribution activities. If we were unable to obtain fuel on similar terms from alternative suppliers, our business would be adversely affected. In addition, our agreement with BR Distribuidora enables us to lock in the cost of the jet fuel that we will consume in the future. Accordingly, in case this agreement is terminated, we might be required to enter into alternative hedging or pay higher prices, which could adversely affect us.

We and the airline industry in general are particularly sensitive to changes in economic conditions and continued negative economic conditions that would likely continue to adversely affect us and our ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms.

Our operations and the airline industry in general are particularly sensitive to changes in economic conditions. Unfavorable economic conditions, such as high unemployment rates, a constrained credit market, low or negative GDP growth, unfavorable exchange rates and increased business operating expenses, can reduce spending for both leisure and business travel. Unfavorable economic conditions can also impact our ability to raise fares to counteract increases in fuel, labor, and other expenses. In particular, the recent recession in the Brazilian economy and political instability has adversely affected industries with significant spending in travel, including government, oil and gas, mining and construction. In addition to decreases in load factors, reduced spending on business travel also affects the quality of demand, resulting in our inability to sell as many high-yield tickets.

An increasingly unfavorable economic environment would likely adversely affect us. In addition, a significant instability of the credit, capital and financial markets could result in increasing our borrowing costs, adversely affecting us. We typically finance our aircraft through operating and finance leases and debt finance. We may not be able to continue to obtain financing on terms attractive to us, or at all. To the extent we cannot obtain such financing on acceptable terms or at all, we may be required to modify our aircraft acquisition plans or to incur higher than anticipated financing costs, which would adversely affect us and our growth strategy. These factors could also adversely affect our ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms and our liquidity in general.

Because the airline industry is characterized by high fixed costs and relatively elastic revenues, airlines cannot quickly reduce their costs to respond to shortfalls in expected revenue and this may harm our ability to attain our strategic goals.

The airline industry is characterized by low gross profit margins; high fixed costs, such as aircraft ownership and leasing, headquarters facility and personnel, information technology system license costs, training and insurance expenses; and revenues that generally exhibit substantially greater elasticity than costs. The operating costs of each flight do not vary significantly with the number of passengers flown and, therefore, a relatively small change in the number of passengers, fare pricing or traffic mix could have a significant effect on operating and financial results.

 

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We expect to incur additional fixed costs, including contractual debt, as we lease or acquire new aircraft and other equipment to implement our growth strategy or other purposes. Based on our current firm orders, between 2019 and 2023, we expect to add approximately 46 next-generation E-195 E2 aircraft, 50 next-generation Airbus 320neos and five next-generation Airbus A330-900neo widebody aircraft to our fleet, replacing current generation aircraft.

As a function of our fixed costs, we may (i) have limited ability to obtain additional financing, (ii) be required to dedicate a significant part of our cash flow to fixed costs resulting from operating leases and debt for aircraft, (iii) incur higher interest or leasing expenses for the event that interest rates increase or (iv) have a limited ability to plan for, or react to, changes in our businesses, the civil aviation sector generally and overall macroeconomic conditions. In addition, volatility in global financial markets may make it difficult for us to obtain financing to manage our fixed costs on favorable terms or at all.

As a result of the foregoing, we may be unable to quickly adjust our fixed costs in response to changes in our revenues. A shortfall from expected revenue levels could have a material adverse effect on us.

Changes to the Brazilian civil aviation regulatory framework may adversely affect us, our business and results of operations, including our competitiveness and compliance costs.

Brazilian aviation authorities monitor and influence the developments in Brazil’s airline market. For example, in July 2014, ANAC published new rules governing the allocation of slots at the main Brazilian airports, which consider operational efficiency (on-time performance and regularity) as the main criteria for the allocation of take-off and landing slots at Brazilian airports. The policies of Brazilian aviation authorities, including ANAC, may adversely affect us and our operations.

Further, in December 2018, the former Brazilian president approved Provisional Measure (Medida Provisória) MP 863/2018, which lifts restrictions on foreign ownership of Brazilian airlines’ voting stock. While the measure has been endorsed by the Brazilian government that took office in January 2019, it is only valid through May 22, 2019, when the conversion of the provisional measure into law is scheduled to be voted in Congress or, if the voting does not take place on such date, until Congress approves or rejects its conversion into law. We cannot foresee if Congress will approve or not the conversion of MP 863/2018 into law or how the restrictions on foreign ownership for Brazilian airlines may be changed and how any such change would affect us and the competitive environment in Brazil. See “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Restrictions on the Ownership of Shares in Air Transportation Service Providers.”

For a description of recent changes to the Brazilian civil aviation regulatory framework, see “Item 4.D. Regulation—Airport Infrastructure.” For a description of recent changes to and pending legislation regarding the Brazilian civil aviation regulatory framework, see “Item 4.D. Regulation—Pending Legislation.”

Changes to the Brazilian civil aviation regulatory framework, including the policies of ANAC and/or INFRAERO, as well as other aviation supervisory authorities, including the Brazilian Aeronautical Code, could increase our costs and change the competitive dynamics of our industry and may adversely affect us. In addition, we cannot guarantee that any of the operating concessions that we hold will be renewed or that we will obtain new concession. Any change that requires us to dedicate a significant level of resources on compliance with new aviation regulations, for example, would result in additional expenditure on compliance and consequently adversely affect us.

We operate in a highly competitive industry and actions by our competitors could adversely affect us.

We face intense competition on certain routes in Brazil from existing scheduled airlines, charter airlines and potential new entrants in our market and also with regards to our business units TudoAzul, Azul Cargo and Azul Viagens. In particular, we face strong competition in routes and markets where our network overlaps with that of our main competitors. As of December 31, 2018, 29% and 19% of our domestic network overlapped with that of Gol and LATAM, respectively. Airlines increase or decrease capacity in markets based on perceived profitability. Decisions by our competitors that increase overall industry capacity, or capacity dedicated to a particular region, market or route, as well as any other management decisions that increase a potential competitor’s market share, could have a material adverse impact on us. Our growth and the success of our business model could stimulate competition in our markets through the development of similar strategies by our competitors. If these competitors adopt and successfully execute similar business models, we could be adversely affected.

 

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Each year we may face increased competition from existing and new participants in the Brazilian market. The air transportation sector is highly sensitive to price discounting and the use of aggressive pricing policies. Other factors, such as flight frequency, schedule availability, brand recognition, and quality of offered services (such as loyalty programs, VIP airport lounges, in-flight entertainment and other amenities) also have a significant impact on market competitiveness. In addition, the barriers to entering the domestic market are relatively low and we cannot assure you that existing or new competitors in our markets will not offer lower prices, more attractive services or increase their route capacity in an effort to obtain greater market share. We may also face competition from international airlines as they introduce and expand flights to Brazil. In addition to competition among scheduled airlines and charter operators, the Brazilian airline industry faces competition from ground transportation alternatives, such as interstate buses and automobiles. Finally, the Brazilian government and regulators could give preference to new entrants or provide support to our competitors, for example, when granting new and current slots in Brazilian airports, as previously occurred with respect to new slots at Congonhas airport.

On December 10, 2018, Avianca Brasil filed for judicial reorganization (recuperação judicial) with the bankruptcy court in São Paulo. On April 5, 2019, Avianca Brasil’s creditors approved a restructuring plan presented by Avianca Brasil, which provides for the creation of special purpose vehicles to which Avianca Brasil will contribute certain assets and rights. The sale of such special purpose vehicles will be carried out through a public auction, pursuant to the Brazilian Bankruptcy Law, which is scheduled for May 7, 2019 and the potential proceeds from the sale shall be used to pay the creditors. Avianca Brasil’s judicial reorganization may affect the Brazilian airline industry and we cannot foresee how the situation will develop.

In addition, technology advancements may limit the desire for air travel. For example, new developments in video teleconferencing and other methods of electronic communication may reduce the need for in-person communication and add a new dimension of competition to the industry as travelers seek lower cost substitutes for air travel.

Furthermore, new competitors may target TudoAzul’s business partners and members or enter the loyalty marketing industry. We cannot assure you that an increase in competition faced by TudoAzul will not have an adverse effect on the growth of our business with respect to TudoAzul or in general. If we are unable to adjust rapidly to the changing nature of competition in our markets or if the Brazilian loyalty marketing industry does not grow sufficiently to accommodate new participants, it could have an adverse effect on us.

Further consolidation in the Brazilian and global airline industry may adversely affect us.

As a result of the competitive environment in which we operate, there may be further consolidation in the Brazilian and global airline industry, whether by means of acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships or strategic alliances. We cannot predict the effects of further consolidation on the industry. Our competitors could increase their scale, diversity and financial strength and may have a competitive advantage over us, which would adversely affect us. Consolidations in the airline industry and changes in international alliances are likely to affect the competitive landscape in the industry and may result in the formation of airlines and alliances with increased financial resources, more extensive global networks and reduced cost structures than us.

We routinely engage in analysis and discussions regarding our own strategic position, including alliances, code-share arrangements, investments, acquisitions, interline arrangements and loyalty program enhancements, and may have future discussions with other airlines regarding similar arrangements. To the extent we act as consolidators, we may not be able to successfully integrate the business and operations of companies acquired, governmental approvals may be delayed, costs of integration and fleet renovation may be greater than anticipated, synergies may not meet our expectations, our costs may increase and our operational efficiency may be reduced, all of which would negatively affect us. To the extent we do not engage in such consolidations, our competitors may increase their scale, diversity and financial strength and may have a competitive advantage over us, which would negatively affect us, including our ability to realize expected benefits from our own strategic partnerships.

We are subject to costs and risks associated with increased or changing laws and regulations affecting our business, including those relating to the sale of consumer products. Specifically, developments in data protection and privacy laws could harm our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We operate in a complex regulatory and legal environment that exposes us to compliance and litigation risks that could materially affect our results of operations. These laws may change, sometimes significantly, as a result of political, economic or social events. Some of the federal, state or local laws and regulations in Brazil that affect us include: those relating to consumer products, product liability or consumer protection; those relating to the manner in which we advertise, market or sell products; labor and employment laws, including wage and hour laws; tax laws or interpretations thereof; data protection and privacy laws and regulations; and securities and exchange laws and regulations. For instance, data protection and privacy laws are developing to take into account the changes in cultural and consumer attitudes towards the protection of personal data. There can be no guarantee that we will have sufficient financial resources to comply with any new regulations or successfully compete in the context of a shifting regulatory environment.

 

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On August 14, 2018, the then President of Brazil approved Law 13709/2018, a comprehensive data protection law establishing general principles and obligations that apply across multiple economic sectors and contractual relationships (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados), or the LGPD. The LGPD establishes detailed rules for the collection, use, processing and storage of personal data and will affect all economic sectors, including the relationship between customers and suppliers of goods and services, employees and employers and other relationships in which personal data is collected, whether in a digital or physical environment. The obligations established by LGPD will become effective within 18 months from the date of publication of the law, by which date all legal entities will be required to adapt their data processing activities to these new rules. Any additional privacy laws or regulations enacted or approved in Brazil or in other jurisdictions in which we operate could seriously harm our business, financial condition or results of operations. See “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Data Protection.”

In particular, as we seek to build a trusted and secure platform for commerce, we will increasingly be subject to laws and regulations relating to the collection, use, retention, security, and transfer of information, including the personally identifiable information of our employees and customers. As with the other laws and regulations noted above, these laws and regulations may be interpreted and applied differently over time and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it is possible they will be interpreted and applied in ways that will materially and adversely affect our business. Any failure, real or perceived, by us to comply with our posted privacy policies or with any regulatory requirements or orders or other local, state, federal, or international privacy or consumer protection-related laws and regulations could cause sellers or their customers to reduce their use of our products and services and could materially and adversely affect our business.

We depend significantly on automated systems and any cyber-attacks, breakdown, hacking or changes in these systems may adversely affect us.

We depend on automated systems to operate our businesses, including our sales system, automated seat reservation system, fleet and network management system, telecommunications system and website. Significant or repeated breakdowns of our automated systems may impede our passengers and travel agencies’ access to our products and services, which may cause them to purchase tickets from other airlines, adversely affecting our net revenues. Our website and ticket sales system must accommodate a high volume of traffic and deliver important flight information. Substantial or repeated website, ticket sales, scheduling or telecommunication systems failures could reduce the attractiveness of our services and could cause our customers to purchase tickets from another airline. Any interruption in these systems or their underlying infrastructure could result in the loss of important data, increase our expenses and generally harm us.

These interruptions may include but are not limited to computer hackings, computer viruses, worms or other disruptive software, or other malicious activities. In particular, both unsuccessful and successful cyber-attacks on companies have increased in frequency, scope and potential harm in recent years. The costs associated with a major cyber-attack could include expensive incentives offered to existing customers to retain their business, increased expenditures on cyber security measures, lost revenues from business interruption, litigation and damage to our reputation. In addition, if we fail to prevent the theft of valuable information, protect the privacy of customer and employee confidential data against breaches of network or IT security, it could result in damage to our reputation, which could adversely impact customer and investor confidence. We may also implement certain changes to our systems that may result in breakdowns, reduced sales, fleet and network mismanagement or telecommunications interruptions, all of which would negatively affect us. Furthermore, the compromise of our technology systems resulting in the loss, disclosure, misappropriation of, or access to, customers’, employees’ or business partners’ information could result in legal claims or proceedings, liability or regulatory penalties under laws protecting the privacy of personal information or disruption to our operations. Any of these occurrences could result in a material adverse effect on us.

We, our reputation, and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, could be adversely affected by events outside of our control.

Accidents or incidents involving our aircraft could involve significant claims by injured passengers and others, as well as significant costs related to the repair or replacement of a damaged aircraft and its temporary or permanent loss from service. We are required by ANAC and lessors of our aircraft under our operating lease agreements to carry liability insurance. The amount of liability insurance we maintain may not be adequate, and we may be forced to bear substantial losses in the event of an accident. Substantial claims resulting from an accident in excess of our related insurance coverage would harm our business and financial results. Moreover, any aircraft accident or incident involving our aircraft, even if fully insured, or the aircraft of any major airline could cause negative public perceptions about us, our aircraft or the air transport system, due to safety concerns or other problems, whether real or perceived, which would harm our reputation, financial results and the market price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

 

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We may also be affected by other events that affect travel behavior or increase costs, such as the potential of epidemics or acts of terrorism. These events are outside of our control and may affect us even if occurring in markets where we do not operate and/or in connection with other airlines. Any future terrorist attacks or threats of attacks, whether or not involving commercial aircraft, any increase in hostilities relating to reprisals against terrorist organizations, including an escalation of military involvement in the Middle East, or otherwise and any related economic impact, could result in decreased passenger traffic and materially and adversely affect us.

Outbreaks or potential outbreaks of diseases, such as the Zika virus, Ebola, avian flu, foot-and-mouth disease, swine flu, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, could have an adverse impact on global air travel. Any outbreak of a disease that affects travel behavior could have a material adverse impact in the worldwide airline industry, our results and our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. Outbreaks of disease could also result in quarantines of our personnel or an inability to access facilities or our aircraft, which would harm us, our reputation, and the price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Natural disasters, severe weather conditions and other events outside of our control may affect and disrupt our operations. For example, in 2018 a truckers’ strike disrupted the distribution of fuel supplies throughout Brazil, affecting flights as well as passengers’ ability to commute to and from airports for a period of approximately 10 days. About 37 airports in which Azul operates ran out of fuel, and some airports remained closed for three days. The total operational impact of the truckers’ strike on our operating results amounted to R$57 million in 2018.

Severe weather conditions can cause flight cancellations or significant delays that may result in increased costs and reduced revenue. Any natural disaster or other event that affects air travel in the regions in which we operate could have a material adverse impact on us.

Our insurance expenses may increase significantly as a result of a terrorist attack, war, aircraft accident, seizures or similar event, adversely affecting us.

Insurance companies may significantly increase insurance premiums for airlines and reduce the amount of insurance coverage available to airlines for civil liability in respect of damage resulting from acts of terrorism, war, aircraft accident, seizures or similar events, as was the case following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States.

In response to substantial increases in insurance premiums to cover risks related to terrorist attacks following the events of September 11, 2001 in the United States, the Brazilian government enacted legislation, specifically Law 10744, of October 9, 2003, authorizing the Brazilian government to assume civil liability to third parties for any injury to goods or persons, whether or not passengers, caused by terrorist attacks or acts of war against Brazilian aircraft operated by Brazilian airlines in Brazil or abroad. In addition, according to the abovementioned legislation, the Brazilian government may, at its sole discretion, suspend or cancel this assumption of liability. If the Brazilian government suspends its assumption of liability, Brazilian airlines will be required to assume the liability once more and obtain insurance in the market.

Airline insurers may reduce their coverage or increase their premiums in case of new terrorist attacks, war, aircraft accident, seizures and the Brazilian government’s termination of its assumption of liability or other events affecting civil aviation in Brazil or abroad. If there are significant reductions in insurance coverage, our potential liability would increase substantially. If there are significant increases in insurance premiums, our operating expenses would increase, adversely affecting us.

In line with global industry practice, we leave some business risks uninsured, including business interruption, loss of profit or revenue and consequential business losses arising from mechanical breakdown. To the extent that uninsured risks materialize, we could be materially and adversely affected. In addition, there is no assurance that our coverage will cover all potential risks associated with our operations and activities. To the extent that actual losses incurred by us exceed the amount insured, we may have to bear substantial losses which will have an adverse impact on us.

Technical and operational problems in the Brazilian civil aviation infrastructure, including air traffic control systems, airspace and airport infrastructure, may have a material adverse effect on our strategy and, consequently, on us.

We are dependent on improvements in the coordination and development of Brazilian airspace control and airport infrastructure, which, mainly due to the large growth in civil aviation in Brazil in recent years, require substantial improvements and government investments. Technical and operational problems in the Brazilian air traffic control systems have led to extensive flight delays, higher than usual flight cancellations and increased airport congestion. The Brazilian government and air traffic control authorities have taken measures to improve the Brazilian air traffic control systems, but if the changes undertaken by the Brazilian government and regulatory authorities do not prove successful, these air traffic control related difficulties might recur or worsen, which may have a material adverse effect on us and our growth strategy.

 

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Slots at Congonhas airport in São Paulo are fully utilized. The Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro, which is important for our operations, has certain landing rights restrictions. Several other Brazilian airports, for example Brasília, Salvador, Belo Horizonte (Confins), São Paulo (Guarulhos and Viracopos) and Rio de Janeiro (Galeão), have limited the number of landing rights per day due to infrastructural limitations at these airports. Any condition that would prevent or delay our access to airports or routes that are vital to our strategy, or our inability to maintain our existing landing rights and slots, and obtain additional landing rights and slots, could materially adversely affect us. New operational and technical restrictions imposed by Brazilian authorities in the airports we operate or in those we expect to operate may also adversely affect us. In addition, we cannot assure that any investments will be made by the Brazilian government in the Brazilian aviation infrastructure to permit a capacity increase at busy airports and consequently additional concessions for new slots to airlines.

Furthermore, we cannot assure that any investments will be made by the holders of concessions for the operators of the airports which serve our routes. For example, as a result of the transfer of our operations to the new passenger terminal at Viracopos airport, we signed a “Terminal Transfer Incentive Agreement” with Aeroportos Brasil which established a detailed construction schedule for this new terminal and gave us certain rights to impose penalties in the event of noncompliance. Due to the fact that Aeroportos Brasil has not complied with certain contractual obligations under this agreement, we have retained 40% of the airport landing tariffs since February 2017. As a result of this retention, Aeroportos Brasil filed a collection action against us, which was settled in May 2018. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, we agreed to carry out certain parts of the construction of the new terminal at Viracopos Airport using the airport landing tariffs retained from Aeroportos Brasil. For more information, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Airports and Other Facilities and Properties—Airports” and “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal Proceedings.”

Increases in labor benefits, union disputes, strikes, and other worker-related disturbances may adversely affect us, including our ability to carry out our normal business operations.

Our business is labor intensive. Our expenses related to our workforce (salaries, wages and benefits) represented 16.4%, 18.7%, 17.3%, 16.2% and 18.3% of our total operating expenses for the years 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively. All Brazilian airline employees, including ours, are represented by regional aviation unions and by two national labor unions: the National Pilots’ and Flight Attendants’ Union (Sindicato Nacional dos Aeronautas) and the National Aviation Union (Sindicato Nacional dos Aeroviários). Negotiations regarding cost of living increases and salary payments are conducted annually between these unions and an association that represents all Brazilian airline companies, the National Union of Airline Companies (Sindicato Nacional das Empresas Aeroviárias), or SNEA. Work conditions and maximum work hours are regulated by government legislation and are not subject to labor negotiations. Future terms and conditions of collective agreements could become more costly for us as a result of an increase in threats of strikes and binding negotiations between the unions and SNEA. Furthermore, certain employee groups such as pilots, mechanics and other airport personnel have highly specialized skills and cannot be easily replaced. Our labor costs could increase if the size of our business increases. Any labor proceeding or other workers’ dispute involving unionized employees could adversely affect us or interfere with our ability to carry out our normal business operations.

Moreover, we are subject to periodic and regular investigations by labor authorities, including the Brazilian Ministry of Labor and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, or the Labor Prosecution Office, with respect to our compliance with labor rules and regulations, including those relating to occupational health and safety. These investigations could result in fines and proceedings that may materially and adversely affect us. For example, in February 2017, the Labor Prosecution’s Office has filed a lawsuit against us claiming that we have allegedly violated certain labor regulations, including limitations on daily working hours and rest periods. It claimed approximately R$66 million in punitive damages. It also requested the grant of an injunction limiting overtime and enforcing legally required breaks, under penalty of R$5,000 per breach. This injunction has been denied by the court. The lawsuit has been suspended and we are in the process of negotiating a Conduct Adjustment Agreement (TAC) with the Labor Prosecution Office. We believe the probability of a loss is possible but expect our ultimate liability to be significantly lower than the amount originally claimed.

A failure to implement our growth strategy may adversely affect us.

Our growth strategy and the consolidation of our leadership in terms of markets served includes, among other objectives, increasing the number of markets we serve and increasing the frequency of the flights we provide. These objectives are dependent on obtaining approvals for operating new routes from local regulators and obtaining adequate access to the necessary airports. Certain airports that we serve or that we may want to serve in the future are subject to capacity constraints and impose landing rights and slot restrictions during certain periods of the day such as the Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro and the Juscelino Kubitschek airport in Brasília. We cannot assure you that we will be able to maintain our current landing rights and slots and obtain a sufficient number of landing rights and slots, gates, and other facilities at airports to expand our services as we propose. It is also possible that airports not currently subject to capacity constraints may become so in the future. In addition, an airline must use its slots on a regular and timely basis or risks having those slots reallocated to other airlines. Where landing rights and slots or other airport resources are not available or their availability is restricted in some way, we may have to modify our schedules, change routes or reduce aircraft utilization.

 

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Some of the airports to which we fly impose various restrictions, including limits on aircraft noise levels, limits on the number of average daily departures and curfews on runway use. In addition, we cannot assure you that airports at which there are no such restrictions may not implement restrictions in the future or that, where such restrictions exist, they may not become more onerous. Such restrictions may limit our ability to continue to provide or to increase services at such airports, which may adversely affect us.

We cannot guarantee that we will be successful in the implementation of our growth strategy and the consolidation of our leadership in terms of markets served and, as a result, any factor preventing or delaying our access to airports or routes which are vital to our growth strategy (including our ability to maintain our current slots and obtain additional landing rights and slots at certain airports) may restrict our operations or the expansion of our operations and, consequently, adversely affect us, our financial results and our growth strategy.

Our current business plan contemplates the addition of Airbus and Embraer aircraft to replace older generation aircraft and serve high-density markets. Any disruption or change in the manufacturers’ delivery schedules for our new Embraer and Airbus aircraft may affect our operations and might negatively affect us because we may not be able to accommodate increased passenger demand or develop our growth strategies.

The successful execution of our strategy is partly dependent on the maintenance of a high daily aircraft utilization rate, making us especially vulnerable to delays.

In order to successfully execute our strategy, we need to maintain a high daily aircraft utilization rate. Achieving high aircraft utilization allows us to maximize the amount of revenue that we generate from each aircraft and dilute fixed costs. High daily aircraft utilization is achieved, in part, by reducing turnaround times at airports and developing schedules that enable us to fly more hours on average per day. Our aircraft utilization rate could be adversely affected by a number of factors that we cannot control, including air traffic and airport congestion, interruptions in the service provided by air traffic controllers, adverse weather conditions and delays by third-party service providers in respect of matters such as fueling and ground handling. Such delays could result in a disruption in our operating performance, leading to lower daily aircraft utilization rates and customer dissatisfaction due to any resulting delays or missed connections, which could adversely affect us.

Any expansion of our business activities will require us to incur additional costs and expenses and we ultimately may be unsuccessful in generating a profit from any such new activities, potentially adversely affecting us.

We intend to expand our business activities through additional products and services if we believe this expansion will increase our profitability or our influence in the markets in which we operate. As part of our growth strategy, we periodically acquire additional aircraft, including different types of aircraft than the ones we currently operate or have operated in the past, and enter into commitments for additional aircraft based on our expectations of increased traffic given the significant time frames for ordering and taking delivery of these assets. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully operate these new aircraft and maintain our historical operating performance.

As the international and domestic markets develop and expand in Brazil, our expansion may also include additional acquisitions of existing service related businesses, aircraft hangars and other assets and business that are expansions of or complementary to our core and ancillary business and responsive to our perceived needs to compete with our competitors. There can be no assurances that our plans to expand our business will be successful given a number of factors, including the possible need for regulatory approvals, additional facilities or rights, personnel and insurance. These new activities may require us to incur material costs and expenses, including capital expenditures, increased personnel, training, advertising, maintenance and fuel costs, as well as costs related to management oversight of any new or expanded activities. We may also incur additional significant costs related to integration of these assets and activities into our existing businesses and require significant ancillary expenditures for systems integration and expansion, financial modeling and development of pricing, traffic monitoring and other management tools designed to help achieve profitability from these new assets and activities.

 

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Any expansion of our activities, change in management oversight and related costs may affect our results and financial condition until we are able to generate a profit from these new activities. Given the current and expected competitive landscape in the airline industry in general and in particular in Brazil, as well as other market factors and conditions, it is possible that there may be a significant period before we are able to generate profits relating to any such new or our existing activities and our overall business, and in certain circumstances we may never turn a profit at all, in each case potentially adversely affecting us.

We may not be able to grow our operations to or in the United States and Europe and may be adversely affected if Brazil does not maintain a favorable safety assessment or if we fail to comply with the United States and European civil aviation regulatory frameworks.

We cannot assure you that the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions to which we fly (including, without limitation, immigration and security regulations, which directly affect passengers) will not change or that new laws adverse to us will not be enacted, and any such events may adversely affect us and our ability to continue and expand our operations internationally.

For example, the FAA periodically audits the aviation regulatory authorities of other countries. As a result of their investigations, each country is given an International Aviation Safety Assessment, or IASA, rating. The IASA rating for Brazil is currently “Category 1,” which means that Brazil complies with the ICAO safety requirements. This allows us to continue our service from our hubs in Brazil to the United States in a normal manner and take part in reciprocal code-sharing arrangements with U.S. carriers. However, we cannot assure you that Brazil will continue to meet international safety standards, and we have no direct control over its compliance with IASA guidelines.

If Brazil does not maintain a favorable safety assessment or if we fail to comply with the United States and European civil aviation regulatory frameworks, our ability to continue or increase service to or in the United States and Europe could be restricted, which could in turn, adversely affect us.

We are highly dependent on our three hubs at Viracopos airport, Confins airport and Recife airport for a large portion of our business and as such, a material disruption at any of our hubs could adversely affect us.

Our business is heavily dependent on our operations at our three hubs at Viracopos airport, Confins airport and Recife airport. Many of our routes operate through these hubs, which account for a significant part of our daily arrivals and departures. Like other airlines, we are subject to delays caused by factors beyond our control and that could affect one or more of our hubs or other airports in any of the regions served by us. For example, in 2018, an incident with an aircraft from LATAM caused the closing of a runway at Confins airport, one of our main hubs, for 21 hours, which negatively impacted our operations and forced us to re-accommodate our passengers to new flights. Due to this geographical capacity concentration, we may not be able to react as quickly or efficiently as our competitors to any delays, interruption or disruption in service or fuel at any one or more of our hubs, which could have a material adverse impact on us. Furthermore, ANAC has granted concessions for the operation of Viracopos airport and Confins airport. We have no control over these concessions and cannot predict how the current concessions, any future concessions or the termination of any concessions could affect these airports. For example, in February 2018, ANAC started an administrative proceeding to terminate the concession for the Viracopos airport; however, Aeroportos Brasil filed a judicial claim to prevent the administrative proceeding to terminate the concession. As of December 31, 2018, a preliminary court decision suspended ANAC’s administrative proceeding, but a final court ruling is still pending. For more information, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Airports and Other Facilities and Properties—Airports” and “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal Proceedings.” Any changes to these concessions could have a material adverse impact on us.

We fly and depend upon Embraer, ATR and Airbus aircraft, and we could suffer if we do not receive timely deliveries of aircraft, if aircraft from these companies become unavailable or subject to significant maintenance or if the public negatively perceives our aircraft.

As our fleet has grown, our reliance on Embraer, ATR and Airbus has also grown. As of December 31, 2018 our operating fleet consisted of 63 Embraer E-Jets, 33 ATR aircraft, 20 next-generation Airbus A320neos and seven Airbus A330s.

Risks relating to Embraer, ATR and Airbus include: (i) our failure or inability to obtain Embraer, ATR or Airbus aircraft parts or related support services on a timely basis because of high demand or other factors, (ii) the issuance by the aviation authorities of directives restricting or prohibiting the use of Embraer, ATR or Airbus aircraft, (iii) the adverse public perception of a manufacturer as a result of an accident or other negative publicity or (iv) delays between the time we realize the need for new aircraft and the time it takes us to arrange for Embraer, ATR and Airbus or from a third-party provider to deliver this aircraft.

 

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Our ability to obtain these new aircraft from Embraer, ATR and Airbus may be affected by several factors, including (i) Embraer, ATR or Airbus may refuse to, or be financially limited in its ability to, fulfill the obligations it assumed under the aircraft delivery contracts, (ii) the occurrence of a fire, strike or other event affecting Embraer’s, ATR’s or Airbus’s ability to fulfill its contractual obligations in a complete and timely fashion and (iii) any inability on our part to obtain aircraft financing or any refusal by Embraer, ATR or Airbus to provide financial support. We may also be affected by any failure or inability of Embraer, ATR, Airbus, (or other suppliers) to supply sufficient replacement parts in a timely fashion, which may cause the suspension of operations of certain aircraft because of unscheduled or unplanned maintenance. Any such suspension of operations would decrease passenger revenue and adversely affect us and our growth strategy.

The occurrence of any one or more of these factors could restrict our ability to use aircraft to generate profits, respond to increased demands or could limit our operations and adversely affect us.

We could be adversely affected by expenses or stoppages associated with planned or unplanned maintenance on our aircraft, as well as any inability to obtain spare parts on time.

As of December 31, 2018, the average age of our operating fleet was 5.9 years. Our relatively new aircraft require less maintenance now than they will in the future. Our fleet will require more maintenance as it ages and our maintenance and repair expenses for each of our aircraft will be incurred at approximately the same intervals. In the event we cannot renew our fleet, our scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance expenses will increase as a percentage of our revenue in future years. Any significant increase in maintenance and repair expenses would have a material adverse effect on us.

Our business would be significantly harmed by unplanned stoppages or suspensions of operations associated with planned or unplanned maintenance due to mechanical issues. For example, if a design defect or mechanical problem with Embraer E-Jets, ATRs or Airbus aircraft were to be discovered, this would cause our aircraft to be grounded while such defect or mechanical problem was being corrected. We cannot assure you that we would succeed in obtaining all aircraft and parts to solve such defect or mechanical problem, that we would obtain such parts on time, or that we would succeed in solving such defect or mechanical problem even if we obtained such parts. This could result in a suspension of the operations of certain of our aircraft, potentially for a prolonged period of time, while we attempted to obtain such parts and solve such defect or mechanical problem, which could have a materially adverse effect on us.

Additionally, General Electric is the sole manufacturer and supplier of the CF34 engines on our Embraer E-Jets and of the LEAP engines on our next-generation Airbus A320neos, Pratt & Whitney is the sole manufacturer and supplier of the PW 127M engines on our ATR 72 aircraft, and Rolls Royce is the sole manufacturer of the Trent 700 engines for our A330 aircraft. As prices for the engines and parts are payable in U.S. dollars, they are subject to fluctuations in exchange rates and may result in us incurring substantial additional expenses in the event that the U.S. dollar appreciates. We have also outsourced all engine maintenance for our Embraer E-Jet and next-generation Airbus A320neo fleet to General Electric, for our ATR fleet to Pratt & Whitney, and the engine maintenance of our A330 fleet to Rolls Royce. If General Electric, Rolls Royce or Pratt & Whitney are unable to perform their contractual obligations or if we are unable to acquire engines from alternative suppliers on acceptable terms, we could lose the benefits we derive from our current agreements with General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce, incur substantial transition costs, or suffer from the suspension of the operations of certain of our aircraft due to the need for unscheduled or unplanned maintenance while these contractual obligations are not being performed.

We rely on agreements with third parties to provide our customers and us with facilities and services that are integral to our business and the termination or non-performance of these agreements could harm us.

We have entered into agreements with third-party contractors to provide certain facilities and services required for our operations, such as aircraft maintenance, ground handling, baggage handling and television and internet services for our flights. All of these agreements are subject to termination on short notice. The loss or expiration of these agreements or our inability to renew these agreements or to negotiate new agreements with other providers at comparable term and conditions or at all could harm our business and results of operations. Further, our reliance on third parties to provide essential services on our behalf gives us less control over the costs, efficiency, timeliness and quality of those services. Any of these third parties may fail to meet their service performance commitments, may suffer disruptions to their systems that could impact the fulfillment of their obligations, or the agreements with such third parties may be terminated. The failure of any third-party contractor to adequately perform their services, or other interruptions of services, may adversely affect us, including reducing our revenues and increasing our expenses or preventing us from operating our flights or providing other services to our customers. In addition, we, including our reputation, could be materially adversely affected if our customers believe that our services or facilities are unreliable or unsatisfactory.

 

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We rely on partner airlines for code-share and loyalty marketing arrangements and the loss of a significant partner through bankruptcy, consolidation, or otherwise, could adversely affect us.

Azul is a party to code-share agreements with international air carriers United, TAP and JetBlue, among others. These agreements provide that certain flight segments operated by us are held out as United, TAP or JetBlue flights, as the case may be, and that certain United, TAP or JetBlue flights, as the case may be, are held out for sale as Azul flights. In addition, these agreements provide that our TudoAzul members can earn points on or redeem points for United or TAP flights, as the case may be, and vice versa. We receive revenue from flights sold under these code-share agreements. In addition, we believe that these frequent flyer arrangements are an important part of our TudoAzul program. The loss of a significant partner through bankruptcy, consolidation, or otherwise, could adversely affect us. We may also be adversely affected by the actions of one of our significant partners, for example, in the event of nonperformance of a partner’s material obligations or misconduct by such partner, which could potentially result in us incurring liabilities, or poor delivery of services by one of our partners, which could damage our brand.

We may be adversely affected if TudoAzul loses business partners or if these business partners change their policies in relation to the granting of benefits to their clients.

TudoAzul relies on its four largest business partners (which are the largest banks in Brazil) for a significant majority of its gross billings. We have no control or influence over TudoAzul’s business partners, which may terminate their relationship with TudoAzul or change their commercial policies with respect to the accumulation, transfer and redemption of points, as well as choose to develop or offer their customers their own platforms for exchanging points for prizes, including airline tickets issued by other airlines. The loss of a significant TudoAzul business partner or changes to TudoAzul’s business partners’ policies could (i) make TudoAzul less attractive or efficient for our business partners’ customers, and (ii) increase competition with respect to TudoAzul, thereby reducing our gross sales and the demand for points, factors that may negatively impact us. If we do not find satisfactory replacement business partners in the event of the loss of one or more of TudoAzul’s significant business partner or adapt satisfactorily to changes to TudoAzul’s business partners’ policies, we may be adversely affected.

If actual redemptions by TudoAzul members are greater than expected, or if the costs related to redemption of reward points increase, we could be adversely affected.

We derive most of our TudoAzul revenues by selling TudoAzul points to business partners. The earnings process is not complete, however, at the time points are sold, as we incur most of our costs related to TudoAzul upon the actual redemption of points by our TudoAzul members. Based on historical data, the estimated period between the issuance of a TudoAzul point and its redemption is currently nine months; however, we cannot control the timing of the redemption of points or the number of points ultimately redeemed. Since we do not incur redemption-related costs for points that are not redeemed, our profitability depends in part on the number of accumulated TudoAzul points that are never redeemed by our TudoAzul members, or “breakage.” We experience breakage when TudoAzul points are not redeemed for any number of reasons.

Our estimate of breakage is based on historical trends. We expect that breakage will decrease from historical amounts as TudoAzul expands its network of business partners and makes available a greater variety of reward options to our TudoAzul members. We seek to offset the anticipated decrease in breakage through our pricing policy for points sold. If we fail to adequately price our points or actual redemptions exceed our expectations, TudoAzul’s profitability, and consequently our own profitability, could be adversely affected. Furthermore, if actual redemptions exceed our expectations, we may not have sufficient cash on-hand to cover all actual redemption costs, which could materially adversely affect us.

We depend on our senior management team, and the loss of any member of this team, including our Chairman and key executives, could adversely affect us.

Our business depends upon the efforts and skill of our senior management. Our future success depends on a significant extent on the continued service of our senior management team, who are critical to the development and the execution of our business strategies. Any member of our senior management team may leave us to establish or work in businesses that compete with ours. There is no guarantee that the compensation arrangements and non-competition agreements we have entered into with our senior management team are sufficiently broad or effective to prevent them from resigning in order to join or establish a competitor or that the non-competition agreements would be upheld in a court of law. In the event that our Chairman or a number of our senior management team leave our company, we may have difficulty finding suitable replacements, which could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

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We may be unable to maintain our culture and to retain and/or hire skilled personnel as our business grows, such as pilots, which could have an adverse impact on us.

We believe that our growth potential and the maintenance of our results and customer-oriented company culture are directly linked to our capacity to attract and maintain the best professionals available in the Brazilian airline industry. As we grow, we may be unable to identify, hire or retain enough people who meet the above criteria, or we may have trouble maintaining our company culture as we become a larger business. From time to time, the airline industry has experienced a shortage of skilled personnel, especially pilots. We compete against all other airlines, both inside and outside Brazil, for these highly-skilled personnel. We may have to increase wages and benefits to attract and retain qualified personnel or risk considerable employee turnover. Our culture is crucial to our business plan, and failure to maintain that culture could have an adverse impact on us.

The airline industry is subject to increasingly stringent environmental regulations and non-compliance therewith may adversely affect us.

The airline industry is subject to increasingly stringent federal, state, local and foreign laws (including those of the United States and Europe), regulations and ordinances relating to the protection of the environment, including those relating to emissions to the air, levels of noise, discharges to surface and subsurface waters, safe drinking water, and the management of hazardous substances, oils and waste materials. As far as civil liabilities are concerned, Brazilian environmental laws adopt a strict and joint liability regime. These laws and regulations are enforced by various governmental authorities. Non-compliance with such laws and regulations may subject the violator to administrative and criminal sanctions, in addition to the obligation to repair or to pay damages caused to the environment and third parties. Pursuant to Brazilian environmental laws and regulations, the piercing of the corporate veil of a company may occur to help provide enough financial resources for the recovery of damages caused against the environment. As far as civil liabilities are concerned, Brazilian environmental laws adopt a strict and joint liability regime. Thus, we may be liable for violations by third parties hired to dispose of our waste.

In this regard we may be liable for violations by third parties hired to dispose of our waste, among other activities. Also, we may not hold all valid environmental licenses deemed necessary by the environmental authorities to perform our activities.

In 2016, ICAO adopted a resolution creating the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), providing a framework for a global market-based measure to stabilize carbon dioxide , or CO2, emissions in international civil aviation (i.e., civil aviation flights that depart in one country and arrive in a different country). CORSIA will be implemented in phases, starting with the participation of ICAO member states on a voluntary basis during a pilot phase (from 2021 through 2023), followed by a first phase (from 2024 through 2026) and a second phase (from 2027). Currently, CORSIA focuses on defining standards for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions from air operators, as well as on defining steps to offset CO2 emissions after 2020. To the extent most of the countries in which we operate continue to be ICAO member states, in the future we may be affected by regulations adopted pursuant to the CORSIA framework.

The proliferation of national regulations and taxes on CO2 emissions in the countries that we have domestic operations, including environmental regulations that the airline industry is facing in Brazil, may also affect our costs of operations and our margins.

Concerns about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions may result in additional regulation or taxation of aircraft emissions in Brazil, the United States or Europe. Future operations and financial results may vary as a result of the adoption of such regulations in Brazil, the United States or Europe.

The European Union has proposed a directive under which the existing emissions trading scheme, or ETS, in each European Union member state was to be extended to all airlines. This directive would require us to submit annual emission allowances in order to operate routes to and from European Union member states. As of December 31, 2018 this proposal would affect only intra-European flights (which are not material to our business) but there is a possibility that the directive could be extended to all flights in the future. Currently, we operate one route to and from Europe, and service additional destinations in Europe through our code-sharing agreement with TAP. Although this proposal has been postponed for evaluation and it is uncertain whether it will be approved, it is increasingly likely that we will be required to participate in some form of an international aircraft emissions program in the future, which may involve significant costs.

 

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We benefit from tax incentives on our purchases of jet fuel in Brazil, and these tax incentives may be revoked at any time adversely affecting us.

The price of the jet fuel that we purchase in certain Brazilian states is subsidized through tax incentives provided to us by those states. Depending on the type of agreement, Governmental authorities may revoke, suspend or fail to renew these tax incentives at any time, including if we fail to comply with our obligations in the tax incentive agreements that we have executed with those states. In addition, certain tax incentive agreements require approval from CONFAZ, the Brazilian National Council of Fiscal Policy, which have not yet been obtained and could therefore be canceled by the Brazilian Supreme Court at any time. If any of these tax incentives are canceled, revoked, suspended or not renewed, the prices that we pay for jet fuel would increase or we may reduce our number of flights, which may lead to a significant impact in our results and adversely affect us.

The agreements governing our debt contain covenants and restrictions that limit our ability to engage in change of control transactions, terminate our relationship with certain suppliers and incur certain levels of indebtedness.

Our financing agreements contain covenants and restrictions that restrict our and our subsidiaries’ ability to engage in change of control transactions and terminate concession agreements associated with such financing leases, whether through failure to renew or otherwise. In addition, certain of our financing instruments require us and our subsidiaries to meet financial covenants calculated as of December 31 of each year that, among other restrictions, limit our permissible ratios of debt to EBITDAR and debt to cash freely convertible into U.S. dollars. Our ability to comply with the covenants and restrictions contained in our financing agreements may be affected by economic, financial and industry conditions beyond our control. The breach of any of these covenants and restrictions could result in declaration of an event of default and acceleration of the maturity of indebtedness, which would require us to pay all amounts outstanding.

As of December 31, 2018, we were in compliance with all financial covenants in our financing instruments requiring us to maintain certain ratios. An eventual default under such agreements may result in their early termination and, as consequence, the cross-default of certain obligations which would cause a material adverse effect on us. For more information on the covenants and restrictions under our financing agreements see “Item 5.B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Loans and Financings.”

Unfavorable decisions in judicial or administrative proceedings could adversely affect us.

We and our subsidiaries are parties to various proceedings in the judicial and administrative spheres, including civil, labor, social security, tax, consumer protection, civil and regulatory actions. There is no way to guarantee that such lawsuits will be ruled favorably to us and/or our subsidiaries, or that the amounts provisioned are sufficient to cover amounts resulting from any unfavorable rulings. Decisions contrary to the interests of us and/or our subsidiaries that could eventually result in substantial payments, affect our image and/or the image of our subsidiaries or impede the performance of our business as initially planned may have a material adverse effect on our business, the business of our subsidiaries, our financial condition and our results of operations.

Any violation or alleged violation of anti-corruption, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws could adversely affect us, including our brand and reputation.

There can be no assurance that our employees, agents, and the companies to which we outsource certain of our business operations will not take actions in violation of our anti-corruption, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering policies, for which we may be ultimately held responsible. We are subject to the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, or the FCPA, by virtue of our shares being listed and traded in the United States, while in the past, our exposure was less significant due to our limited nexus with the United States. If we are not in compliance with anti-corruption laws, anti-money laundering laws and other laws governing the conduct of business with government entities, including under the FCPA and other United States and local laws, we may be subject to criminal and civil penalties and other remedial measures, which could harm our brand and reputation and have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Any investigation of any actual alleged violations of such laws could also adversely affect us, including our brand and reputation.

 

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We are a holding company and do not have any material assets other than the shares of our subsidiaries.

We are a holding company that conducts its operations through a series of operating subsidiaries. We support these operating subsidiaries with technical and administrative services through our various other subsidiaries. All of the assets we use to perform administrative and technical services and to operate the concessions and authorizations are held at the subsidiary level. As a result, we do not have any material assets other than the shares of our subsidiaries. Dividends or payments that we may be required to make will be subject to the availability of cash provided by our subsidiaries. Transfers of cash from our subsidiaries to us may be further limited by corporate and legal requirements, or by the terms of the agreements governing our indebtedness. If a shareholder were to assert a claim against us, the enforcement of any related judgment would be limited to our available assets, rather than our assets and those of our combined subsidiaries.

Risks Relating to Our Preferred Shares, Including in the Form of ADSs

Our controlling shareholder has the ability to direct our business and affairs, and its interests may conflict with yours.

In accordance with Brazilian corporate law and our bylaws, our controlling shareholder has the legal power to, among other things, elect the majority of our directors and determine the outcome of any action requiring shareholder approval. This power includes the ability to control decisions with respect to related party transactions, corporate restructurings, dispositions, partnerships, sale of all or substantially all of our assets, withdrawal of our shares from the Level 2 segment of B3 and the time for payment of any future dividends. Our controlling shareholder may choose to enter into acquisitions, dispositions, partnerships or enter into loans and financing or other similar transactions for us that could conflict with the interests of investors and that may negatively affect us. As of December 31, 2018 our controlling shareholder owned, directly and indirectly, 67% of our voting capital and 50.3% of our total capital. In economic terms, our controlling shareholder’s holdings equal 5.3%. In particular, due to our capital structure, the capital contributions made by the holders of our common shares to date were considerably lower than those made by the holders of our preferred shares, which means that our controlling shareholder has the right to direct our business having considerably less economic interest to the results of our activities than holders of our preferred shares. This difference in economic interest may intensify conflicts of interests between our controlling shareholder and you.

Our controlling shareholder is entitled to receive significantly less dividends than holders of our preferred shares, which may cause his decisions on the distribution of dividends to conflict with your interests.

Holders of our common shares are entitled to receive an amount of dividends equivalent to 75 times less than the amount of dividends paid to holders of our preferred shares. The fact that our controlling shareholder receives a small portion of our dividends in each distribution in comparison to the amount of dividends to which holders of our preferred shares are entitled may influence his decisions on the distribution of dividends, which may differ from interests of the holders of our preferred shares. For more information on distribution of dividends and compensation of our management, see “Item 10.F. Dividends and Payment Agents—Dividend Policy” and “Item 6.B. Management Compensation,” respectively.

Investors in our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, may experience book value dilution in the future.

We have established stock option and restricted stock plans for key personnel, including our officers, certain managers and other key crewmembers. We estimate that as of December 31, 2018, 2,572,640 new preferred shares would have been issued if all of our vested options were exercised by the holders thereof at a weighted average strike price of R$11.60. The exercise of vested options by the holders thereof could result in substantial dilution in book value to investors if the public offering price for our preferred shares (including in the form of ADSs) is higher than the book value of such shares in the future upon the exercise of our stock options. See “Item 6.B. Management Compensation—Stock-Based Incentive Plans.”

In addition, in the event that we need to obtain capital for our operations by issuing new shares in the future, any such issuance may be made at a value below the book value of our preferred shares on the relevant date. In that event, the holders of our ADSs and preferred shares at such time would suffer an immediate and significant dilution of their investment.

An active and liquid trading market for our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs may not be maintained, thereby potentially adversely affecting the price our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

An active and liquid public trading market for our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, may not be maintained. Active, liquid trading markets generally result in lower price volatility and more efficient purchases and sales of shares. If an active trading market is not maintained, the liquidity and price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, could be seriously harmed.

 

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The investment in marketable securities traded in emerging countries, such as Brazil, usually represents higher levels of risk as compared to investments in securities issued in countries whose political and economic situations are more stable, and in general, such investments are considered speculative in nature. The Brazilian capital market is substantially smaller, less liquid, more volatile, and more concentrated than major international capital markets. B3 exchange-listed companies had an aggregate market capitalization of R$3.6 trillion as of December 31, 2018 and a daily average trading volume of R$12.3 billion as December 31, 2018, according to B3. These market characteristics may substantially limit the capacity of holders of our preferred shares to sell them at the price and time of their preference and this may have an adverse effect on the market price of our preferred shares.

In addition, the price of shares of companies in the worldwide airline industry are relatively volatile and investors’ perception of the market value of these shares, including our preferred shares in the form of ADSs, may also be negatively impacted with additional volatility and decreases in the price of our ADSs and preferred shares.

Our preferred shares will have limited voting rights.

Except under certain situations, our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, do not carry general voting rights. See “Item 10.B. Memorandum and Articles of Association—Rights of Our Common and Preferred Shares—Voting Rights.” Our principal shareholders, who hold the majority of common shares with voting rights and control us, are therefore able to approve most corporate measures without the approval of holders of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs. Accordingly, you will generally not have control over any matters, including the approval of corporate measures such as appointment of directors, approval of significant transactions or changes in our capital structure.

According to Brazilian corporate law, preferred shares with limited or no voting rights and with rights to fixed or minimum priority dividends, gain voting rights if the company ceases to pay the fixed or minimum dividends to which such shares are entitled for three consecutive fiscal years.

In addition, to the extent holders of our preferred shares are entitled to vote on certain limited matters pursuant to Brazilian corporate law, the provisions of our bylaws, and the provisions of or governing the deposited preferred shares, we cannot assure ADS holders that they will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote the preferred shares underlying their ADSs. Furthermore, there can be no assurance that ADS holders will be given the opportunity to vote or cause the custodian to vote on the same terms and conditions as the holders of our preferred shares. While ADS holders could exercise their right to vote directly if they withdraw the preferred shares, such ADS holders may not know about the meeting sufficiently enough in advance to withdraw the preferred shares. See “Item 10.B. Memorandum and Articles of Association—Rights of Our Common and Preferred Shares—Voting Rights.”

Holders of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, may not receive any dividends or interest attributable to shareholders’ equity.

According to our bylaws, provided that the Company records a net income and there are no accumulated losses, we must pay our common and preferred shareholders at least 0.1% of our annual adjusted net income as dividends or interest attributable to shareholders’ equity, as calculated and adjusted pursuant to Brazilian corporate law. Interim dividends and interest on our shareholders’ equity declared for each fiscal year may be attributed to our minimum obligatory dividend for the year in which it was declared. For more information, see “Item 10.F. Dividends and Payment Agents—Dividend Policy.” This adjusted net income may be capitalized, used to absorb losses or otherwise retained as allowed under Brazilian corporate law, and may not be made available for payment as dividends or interest attributable to shareholders’ equity.

Additionally, Brazilian corporate law allows a company like ours to suspend the mandatory distribution of dividends in any particular fiscal year if our board of directors informs our shareholders that such distribution would be inadvisable in view of our financial condition. If these events were to occur, the holders of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs may not receive dividends or interest attributable to shareholders’ equity.

The sale of a significant number of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, may negatively affect the trading price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Our principal shareholders, as well as our directors, officers and other affiliates, are able to sell additional preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, and certain lock up agreements into which they had entered have expired. In addition, under our fifth amended and restated registration rights agreement, or the Registration Rights Agreement, which we entered into on August 3, 2016 with our then principal shareholders, we could be required to register additional preferred shares held by the shareholders who signed the Registration Rights Agreement with the SEC for future sale at any time commencing six months following our initial public offering. For further details of the Registration Rights Agreement, see “Item 7.A. Major Shareholders—Registration Rights Agreement.”

 

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Sales of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, made by our affiliates, including those effected by our directors, executive officers or controlling shareholders or those involving a large number of preferred shares or ADSs, or market perception of an intention to any of such sales, may negatively affect the trading price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Changes in Brazilian tax laws may have an adverse impact on the taxes applicable to a disposition of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs.

Law 10833 of December 29, 2003 provides that the disposition of assets located in Brazil by a nonresident to either a resident or a nonresident of Brazil is subject to taxation in Brazil, regardless of whether the disposition occurs outside or within Brazil. This provision results in the imposition of income tax on the gains arising from a disposition of our preferred shares by a nonresident of Brazil to either a resident or a nonresident of Brazil. However, since currently there is no judicial guidance determining whether ADSs should be considered assets located in Brazil, we are unable to predict whether Brazilian courts may decide that income tax under Law 10833 applies to gains assessed on dispositions of our ADSs. In the event that the disposition of assets is interpreted to include the disposition of our ADSs, this tax law would result in the imposition of withholding taxes on the sale of our ADSs by a nonresident of Brazil to either a resident or a nonresident of Brazil. Because any gain or loss recognized by a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10.E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations”) on the disposition of preferred shares or ADSs generally will be treated as U.S.-source gain or loss for U.S. foreign tax credit purposes, the U.S. Holder may not be able to benefit from a foreign tax credit for Brazilian income tax imposed on the disposition of preferred shares or ADSs unless the U.S. Holder can apply the credit against U.S. federal income tax payable on other income from foreign sources. See “Item 10.E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations —Sale or Other Taxable Disposition of Preferred Shares, Including in the Form of ADSs.”

The Brazilian government may impose exchange controls and significant restrictions on remittances of reais abroad, which would adversely affect your ability to convert and remit dividends or other distributions or the proceeds from the sale of our preferred shares, our capacity to make dividend payments or other distributions to non-Brazilian investors and would reduce the market price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, and our capacity to comply with payment obligations in foreign currency.

In case of serious imbalances, the Brazilian government may restrict the remittance abroad of proceeds of investments in Brazil and the conversion of the real into foreign currencies. The Brazilian government last imposed such remittance restrictions for a brief period in 1989 and early 1990. We cannot assure you that the Brazilian government will not take similar measures in the future. The return of any such restrictions would hinder or prevent your ability to convert dividends or other distributions or the proceeds from any sale of our preferred shares into U.S. dollars and to remit U.S. dollars abroad, our capacity to make dividend payments or other distributions to non-Brazilian investors, and our capacity to comply with payment obligations in foreign currency. The imposition of any such restrictions would have a material adverse effect on the stock market price of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, and on our capacity to access foreign capital markets.

If you surrender your ADSs and withdraw preferred shares, you risk losing the ability to remit foreign currency abroad and certain Brazilian tax advantages.

As an ADS holder, you benefit from the electronic certificate of foreign capital registration obtained by the custodian for our preferred shares underlying the ADSs in Brazil, permitting the custodian to convert dividends and other distributions with respect to our preferred shares into non-Brazilian currency and remit the proceeds abroad. If you surrender your ADSs and withdraw preferred shares, you will be entitled to continue to rely on the custodian’s electronic certificate of foreign capital registration for only five business days from the date of withdrawal. Thereafter, upon the disposition of distributions relating to our preferred shares, unless you obtain your own electronic certificate of foreign capital registration, or you qualify under Brazilian foreign investment regulations that entitle some foreign investors to buy and sell shares on Brazilian stock exchanges without obtaining separate electronic certificates of foreign capital registration, you would not be able to remit abroad non-Brazilian currency. In addition, if you do not qualify under the foreign investment regulations, you will generally be subject to less favorable tax treatment of dividends and distributions on, and the proceeds from any sale of, our preferred shares.

If you attempt to obtain your own electronic certificate of foreign capital registration, you may incur expenses or suffer delays in the application process, which could delay your ability to receive dividends or distributions relating to our preferred shares or the return of your capital in a timely manner. The depositary’s electronic certificate of foreign capital registration may also be adversely affected by future legislative changes.

 

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If we do not maintain a registration statement and no exemption from the Securities Act is available, U.S. Holders of ADSs will be unable to exercise preemptive rights with respect to our preferred shares.

We may, from time to time, offer preferred shares or other securities, or preemptive rights to acquire additional preferred shares or other securities to shareholders, including as a result of the Brazilian Corporate Law. We will not be able to offer such securities or rights to holders of ADSs unless a registration statement under the Securities Act is effective with respect to such preferred shares and preemptive rights, or an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act is available. We are not obligated to file such registration statement, and we cannot assure you that we will file a registration statement. If a registration statement is not filed and an exemption from registration does not exist, Citibank, N.A., as depositary, will attempt to sell such preemptive rights or securities, as the case may be, and you will be entitled to receive the proceeds of the sale. However, if the depositary is unable to sell these preemptive rights or securities, U.S. holders of ADSs will not receive any value in connection with such distribution.

In the event that you are not entitled to preemptive rights, or are unable or unwilling to exercise preemptive rights in connection with the preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs or other securities, your investment could be subjected to dilution.

The requirements of being a public company may strain our resources, divert management’s attention and affect our ability to attract and retain qualified board members or executive officers.

As a public company, we incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we have not incurred as a private company, including costs associated with public company reporting requirements. We also have incurred and will incur costs associated with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended, and related rules implemented by the SEC. The expenses incurred by public companies generally for reporting and corporate governance purposes have been increasing. We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time consuming and costly, although we are currently unable to estimate these costs with any degree of certainty. These laws and regulations could also make it more difficult or costly for us to obtain certain types of insurance, including director and officer liability insurance, and we may be forced to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. These laws and regulations could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors, our board committees or as our executive officers and may divert management’s attention. Furthermore, if we are unable to satisfy our obligations as a public company, we could be subject to delisting of our preferred shares, fines, sanctions and other regulatory action and potentially civil litigation which may adversely affect us.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or publish negative reports about our business, the market price and trading volume of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs could decline.

The trading market for our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs, could decline, which might cause the market price and trading volume of our preferred shares, including in the form of ADSs to decline.

Our status as a foreign private issuer allows us to follow alternate standards to the corporate governance standards of the NYSE, which may limit the protections afforded to investors.

We are a “foreign private issuer” within the meaning of the NYSE corporate governance standards. Under NYSE rules, a foreign private issuer may elect to comply with the practices of its home country and not comply with certain corporate governance requirements applicable to U.S. companies with securities listed on the exchange. We currently follow certain Brazilian practices concerning corporate governance and intend to continue to do so.

We rely on certain exemptions as a foreign private issuer listed on the NYSE. For example, a majority of our board of directors is not independent, and we do not plan to hold at least one executive session of solely independent members of our board of directors each year. Also, pursuant to Brazilian corporate law and Instruction 308, dated May 14, 1999, as amended, issued by CVM, our audit committee, unlike the audit committee of a U.S. issuer, will not be composed of directors only, will only have an “advisory” role and may only make recommendations for adoption by our board of directors, which will be responsible for the ultimate vote and final decision.

 

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In addition, we do not have a nominating committee as required for U.S. issuers under the NYSE rules and although we have a compensation committee and a corporate governance committee, we are not required to comply with the NYSE standards applicable to compensation or corporate governance committees of listed companies.

Furthermore, the corporate disclosure requirements that apply to us may not be equivalent to the disclosure requirements that apply to a U.S. company and, as a result, you may receive less information about us than you would receive from a comparable U.S. company. We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. The disclosure requirements applicable to foreign private issuers under the Exchange Act are more limited than the disclosure requirements applicable to U.S. issuers. Publicly available information about issuers of securities listed on the CVM, which is provided in Portuguese, also provides less detail in certain respects than the information regularly published by listed companies in the United States or in certain other countries.

Accordingly, holders of our ADSs will not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.

 

ITEM 4.

INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

 

A.

History and Development of the Company

We are incorporated as a Brazilian sociedade por ações under the corporate name Azul S.A. Our headquarters are at Edifício Jatobá, 8th floor, Castelo Branco Office Park, Avenida Marcos Penteado de Ulhôa Rodrigues, 939, Tamboré, Barueri, São Paulo, SP 06460-040, Brazil. We are registered with the Board of Trade of the state of São Paulo under corporate registration number, or NIRE, number 35.300.361.130. We have been registered with the CVM as a publicly held corporation since April 7, 2017.

We were founded on January 3, 2008 by entrepreneur David Neeleman and began operations on December 15, 2008. Backed by Mr. Neeleman and other strategic shareholders, we have benefitted from our partnerships and have invested in a robust and scalable operating platform. We have a management team that effectively combines local market expertise with diversified international experience and knowledge of best practices from the United States, the largest aviation market in the world.

Our start-up capital of R$400.7 million enabled us to invest up-front in a scalable operating platform and efficient young fleet. After less than six months of operations, we became Brazil’s third-largest airline in terms of domestic market share in May 2009, according to ANAC. Our operating fleet has grown from three Embraer E-Jets in December 2008 to a total of 125 aircraft, consisting of 63 Embraer E-Jets, 33 ATR aircraft, 20 next-generation Airbus A320neos, seven Airbus A330s and two B737 freighter as of December 31, 2018.

In August 2012, we acquired TRIP, which at the time was the largest regional carrier in South America by number of destinations. We have consolidated TRIP’s results of operations into our financial statements since November 30, 2012. The fleet similarity between the two airlines allowed us to integrate all of TRIP’s activities by June 2014. The TRIP acquisition substantially increased our network connectivity, enabling us to serve 100 destinations upon completion of the acquisition and to become the leading carrier in terms of departures in 71 cities as of December 31, 2018 as well as to consolidate our position as a leader in Brazil’s fast-growing regional aviation market. As of December 31, 2018, we had the largest airline network in Brazil in terms of departures and cities served, with 821 daily departures spanning 110 destinations – an unparalleled network of 222 non-stop routes. In addition, through the TRIP acquisition, we became the leading carrier in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest metropolitan area, according to IBGE, and gained strategic landing rights at Guarulhos airport in São Paulo and Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro, complementing our main hub at Viracopos airport in São Paulo.

Leveraging the strength of the network we built over the previous years, in December 2014 we started operating international flights with Airbus A330 aircraft, serving millions of passengers that connected throughout our network and that previously did not have a convenient option to travel internationally.

As part of our plans to expand globally, we have also established code-share agreements with other carriers such as United and TAP, giving our passengers the ability to connect to more than 150 destinations worldwide in addition to the 110 destinations we currently serve.

 

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Capital Expenditures

For a description of our capital expenditures, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Capital Expenditures.

 

B.

Business Overview

General

We are the largest airline in Brazil in terms of departures and cities served, with 821 daily departures to 110 destinations, creating an unparalleled network of 222 non-stop routes as of December 31, 2018. As the sole airline on 71% of our routes, we are the leading airline in 71 Brazilian cities in terms of departures and carried approximately 23.0 million passengers in the year ended December 31, 2018. In addition to having an extensive network, optimized fleet, and a high quality product, we wholly own our loyalty program TudoAzul, a strategic revenue-generating asset, which had approximately 11 million members as of December 31, 2018.

Brazil is geographically similar in size to the continental United States and is currently the fifth largest market for domestic airline passengers in the world. Since 2008, the number of domestic airline passengers carried in Brazil has increased by 87% to 94 million in 2018, according to ANAC, and Azul alone has captured more than 50% of that growth. Brazil’s air travel market continues to be significantly underpenetrated and is expected to double over the next ten years according to ABEAR.

We have the most extensive route network in Brazil, serving 100 domestic destinations, about twice as many as our main competitors Gol and LATAM, which served 53 and 45 destinations, respectively, as of December 31, 2018. We are the only provider of scheduled service to 41 of our domestic destinations and hold the leading position in eight out of the ten largest domestic airports in terms of departures in which we operate. Through our network, we connect travelers to destinations exclusively served by us from our three hubs, which cater to the São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Recife markets, all among the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Notably, we are the leading airline at Viracopos airport, one of the principal airports in the São Paulo area and the largest domestic hub in South America in terms of non-stop destinations served, with a 97% share of its 148 domestic daily departures as of December 31, 2018.

We operate a young, fuel-efficient fleet that we believe is better tailored for Brazil than those of our main competitors, as it allows us to serve markets with different demographics, ranging from large capitals to smaller cities. As of December 31, 2018, our operating fleet was comprised of 125 aircraft with an average age of 5.9 years, which is significantly younger than that of our main competitors. We believe that our diversified fleet is optimized to efficiently match capacity to demand. This enables us to offer superior connectivity as well as more convenient and frequent non-stop service to more airports than our main competitors, which exclusively operate larger aircraft. Over the next years, we expect to continue our fleet transformation plan by replacing older generation E-Jets with more fuel-efficient aircraft, such as the next-generation Airbus A320neos and Embraer E2s, that have 56 and 18 additional seats respectively compared to the E-Jets. This more efficient fleet will generate a lower seat cost and contribute to our margin expansion going forward. We expect to end 2019 with an operating fleet comprised of 129 aircraft, including 32 next-generation Airbus A320neos and six Embraer E2s, and with approximately 40% of our total capacity derived from next-generation aircraft.

A key driver of our profitability is our management team’s extensive experience in implementing a disciplined, low-cost operating model. Our optimized fleet yields lower trip costs than our main competitor. In the year ended December 31, 2018, our average trip cost was R$32,007, 25.2% lower than that of Gol. With the increase in the number of next-generation Airbus A320neos and Embraer E2s in our fleet, we expect to maintain our market-leading low trip cost advantage. In addition, our FTEs per aircraft were the lowest in Brazil at 94 compared to 126 for Gol as of December 31, 2018, according to Gol’s 2018 results filed with the SEC on February, 28, 2019. Over the past three years, we had the best on-time performance records among Brazilian carriers and were recognized by OAG as “The Most-On Time LCC in the World in 2018 and “The Most On-Time Low Cost Carrier in the Americas.”

We have built a strong brand by offering what we believe is a superior travel experience, based on a culture of customer service provided by a highly-motivated and well-trained team of crewmembers. Our service features include passenger seat selection, leather seats, individual entertainment screens with free live television at every seat in all our E-Jets, extensive legroom with a pitch of 30 inches or more, complimentary beverage and snack services, and free bus service to key airports we serve. As a result of our strong focus on customer service, according to surveys we have conducted, 89 of our customers would recommend or strongly recommend Azul to a friend or relative as of December 31, 2018. In 2017, we won the Skytrax award of “Best Regional Airline in South America” for the seventh consecutive year. In 2018 we won the Skytrax award of “Best Airline Staff” for the third consecutive year. In addition, we were named “Best Carrier in Latin America” for the second consecutive year and listed among the world’s top 10 airlines by TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice.

 

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We continue to invest in and expand our loyalty program TudoAzul, which had approximately 11 million members and 76 program partners as of December 31, 2018. TudoAzul has been the fastest growing loyalty program in terms of members in Brazil for the past four years compared to Smiles and Multiplus, the loyalty programs of Gol and LATAM, respectively, according to publicly available information of such competitors, including disclosure filed with or furnished to the SEC and information available on their respective websites. TudoAzul was also elected “Best Loyalty Program in Brazil” for the third consecutive year by readers of Melhores Destinos, the largest web portal of airline fare promotions and loyalty programs in Brazil. Given our network strength and the expected growth of passenger air travel, credit card penetration and usage and customer loyalty in Brazil, we believe that TudoAzul is a key strategic asset for us. Unlike our main competitors, we own 100% of our loyalty program and benefit from all of TudoAzul’s cash flows. Since mid-2015, we have managed TudoAzul through a dedicated team and are constantly evaluating opportunities to unlock value from this strategic asset.

In 2018, we generated a net revenue of R$9.2 billion and a net income of R$420.3 million compared to R$7.8 billion and R$516.3 million, respectively, in 2017. Our net income of R$420.3 million was partially offset by non-recurring items related to aircraft sale losses and the trucker’s strike in Brazil in 2018 in the aggregate amount of R$283.3 million.

We intend to continue growing our ancillary and other revenue, by both leveraging our existing products and introducing new ones. Ancillary revenue includes revenue derived from bag fees, upgrade fees and all other passenger-related fees. Other revenue streams are expected to be mostly driven by our Azul Cargo business, which grew 56.5% in 2018 compared to 2017, and Azul Viagens, our travel package business.

Strengths and Opportunities

Our Competitive Strengths

We believe the following business strengths allow us to compete successfully:

Largest network in Brazil

We have the largest network in Brazil in terms of departures and cities served, with 821 daily departures serving 110 destinations, creating an unparalleled network of 222 non-stop routes as of December 31, 2018. Our connectivity at large hubs allows us to consolidate traffic, serving larger and medium-sized markets as well as smaller cities that do not generate sufficient demand for point-to-point service. We believe that our extensive network coverage allows us to connect more passengers than our competitors, who serve significantly fewer destinations. As of December 31, 2018, we served 100 destinations in Brazil, compared to 53 for Gol and 45 for LATAM. In addition, we were the sole airline on 71% of our routes and 41 of the destinations we served, and the leading player in 71 cities as of December 31, 2018. By comparison, Gol and LATAM were leading carriers in only 16 and five cities, respectively, as of December 31, 2018. Furthermore, as of December 31, 2018, 29% and 19% of our domestic network overlapped with that of Gol’s and LATAM’s, respectively, while Gol’s and LATAM’s networks had an overlap of approximately 88% between them.

Our optimized fleet enables us to efficiently serve our target markets

Our fleet strategy is based on optimizing the type of aircraft for the different markets we serve. Our diversified fleet of ATR, E-Jets and Airbus aircraft enables us to serve markets that we believe our main competitors, who only fly one type of larger narrow-body aircraft, cannot serve profitably. We believe our current fleet of aircraft allows us to match capacity to demand, achieve high load factors, provide greater convenience and frequency, and serve low and medium density routes and markets in Brazil that are not served by our main competitors. According to ANAC, 52.0% of the flights in Brazil carried fewer than 120 passengers in 2018. Our domestic fleet consists of Embraer E-Jets which seat up to 118 passengers, fuel-efficient ATR aircraft which seat 70 passengers, and next-generation Airbus A320neos which seat 174 passengers, while all the narrow-body aircraft used by Gol and LATAM in Brazil have between 144 and 220 seats. As a result, the average trip cost for our fleet of R$32,007 as of December 31, 2018 was 25.2% lower than that of larger Boeing 737-800 jets flown by Gol. We also operate Airbus A330s to serve international markets.

Our fleet plan focuses on maintaining a trip cost advantage relative to our main competitors while also providing us with flexibility for growth into new markets both domestically and internationally. Based on our current firm orders, between 2019 and 2023, we expect to add approximately 46 next-generation E-195 E2 aircraft, 50 next-generation Airbus 320neos and five next-generation Airbus A330-900neo widebody aircraft to our fleet, replacing older generation aircraft. These new generation aircraft are more fuel-efficient than older generation aircraft. We expect that our fleet plan will allow us to maintain market-leading trip costs and to reduce our CASK, both in absolute terms and relative to our main competitors.

 

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Industry-leading PRASK

We utilize a proprietary yield management system that is key to our strategy of optimizing yield through dynamic fare segmentation and demand stimulation. We target both business travelers, to whom we offer convenient flight options, and cost-conscious leisure travelers, to whom we offer low fares to stimulate air travel and to encourage advanced purchases. This segmentation model has enabled us to achieve a market-leading PRASK of 29.54 real cents in the year ended December 31, 2018. In addition, in 2018, our PRASK represented a 33.5% premium compared to Gol. We believe our superior network and product offering allows us to attract high-yield and frequent business travelers. According to ABRACORP, we held a 31.0% share in terms of Brazilian business-focused travel agency revenue, compared to a 19.0% market share in terms of RPKs as of December 31, 2018. In 2018, our average business-focused travel agency ticket price was 20.1% higher than that of our main competitor, and our total average fare was 18.6% higher.

As an illustration of our ability to stimulate demand, the following table highlights the increase in average customers per day on certain routes from November 2008, shortly before we started operations, to December 2018:

 

     Total Direct
Flights
     Azul      Average Daily
Enplanements
(One Way)
 

Campinas—Rio de Janeiro

        

November 2008

     6               564  

December 2018

     18        16        1,410  

Campinas—Salvador

        

November 2008

                   155 (1) 

December 2018

     4        4        466  

Campinas—Belo Horizonte

        

November 2008

     5               503  

December 2018

     11        11        1,141  

Belo Horizonte—Goiânia

        

November 2008

     1               82  

December 2018

     3        3        280  

Campinas—Porto Alegre

        

November 2008

                   241 (1) 

December 2018

     10        10        952  

 

Source: ANAC and internal data.

(1)

Itinerary available through connecting flight only.

The increase in flights from Campinas, our main hub, illustrates the success of our demand-stimulation model. Across Brazil, our Campinas hub offers superior connectivity for connecting passengers, with the most non-stop services in the country as of December 31, 2018. As a result of our focus on underserved markets, we have been able to establish a successful platform that has significantly increased demand at Viracopos airport over the last 10 years. In November 2008, before we began operations, airlines serving Viracopos airport offered just twelve daily departures to eight destinations. As of December 31, 2018, Viracopos airport offered 148 domestic daily departures to 56 destinations, and we held a 97.0% share of those daily departures.

Most efficient cost structure in the Brazilian market

We have leveraged our management team’s experience by implementing a disciplined, low-cost operating model to achieve our operational efficiencies. We believe we have achieved these operational efficiencies primarily through:

 

   

Optimized aircraft for markets and routes served;

 

   

Low cost of sales, distribution and marketing through direct-to-consumer marketing, e-commerce (approximately 85% of all sales were generated by online channels in year of 2018) and associated use of social networking tools;

 

   

Lower costs due to single class cabin configuration for our domestic flights;

 

   

Operation of a modern fleet with better fuel-efficiency and lower maintenance costs than previous generation aircraft;

 

   

Innovative and beneficial financial arrangements for our aircraft, as a result of being one of the largest customers for Embraer and ATR aircraft;

 

   

Investment in check-in technology to increase operating efficiencies; and

 

   

Creation of a company-wide business culture focused on driving down costs.

 

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As a result, we have achieved lower trip costs than our main competitor. In the year ended December 31, 2018, our average trip cost was R$32,007, 25.2% lower than that of Gol. In addition, our FTEs per aircraft were the lowest in Brazil at 94 compared to 126 for Gol as of December 31, 2018.

We have a robust and scalable operating platform that features advanced technology such as ticketless reservations, an Oracle financial system, a mobile app, and electronic check-in kiosks at our main destination airports. We believe that our scalable platform provides superior reliability and safety and will generate economies of scale as we continue to expand.

Strategic global partnerships

We have established long-term strategic partnerships with United and TAP. In 2015, United, acting through a subsidiary, acquired shares representing approximately a 5% economic interest in our company for US$100 million. In 2018, United acquired additional shares and increased its economic interest in our company to 8.0%. Our alliance with United has enhanced the reach of our mutual networks and created additional connecting traffic, as both we and United began selling each other’s flights on our websites through a code-share agreement. This code-share agreement also provides customers flying on both airlines with a seamless reservations and ticketing process, including boarding pass and baggage check-in to their final destination, and we are evaluating possible additional cooperation with United.

As part of the privatization process of TAP in 2016, a consortium of private investors (including our principal shareholder) acquired a stake in TAP, and we invested €90 million in exchange for TAP bonds convertible into 41.25% economic interest in TAP. On March 14, 2019 we acquired a fully diluted economic stake of 6.1% in TAP from Hainan Airlines (Hong Kong) Co. Limited for a purchase price of US$25 million. The current stake represents 20.0% and 35.6% of the voting rights and economic rights of Atlantic Gateway, respectively. As a result, considering or current investment in TAP through a bond that is convertible into 41.25% of TAP’s economic rights, Azul’s total economic interest in TAP, assuming the bonds are converted, increased to 47.35%. For information on the conversion mechanism of TAP bonds, see “Business—Strategic Partnerships, Alliances and Commercial Agreements—TAP.” As of December 31, 2018, TAP served 65 destinations, including 10 destinations in Brazil, and was the leading European carrier serving Brazil in terms of number of seats and flights. In addition, in June 2016, we successfully launched a non-stop flight between our and TAP’s main hubs, Campinas and Lisbon and we expect to launch a non-stop flight between Campinas and Porto in June 2019. We are constantly evaluating the various ways in which we can cooperate with TAP and as of December 31, 2018 we had subleased 15 aircraft to TAP as part of our fleet optimization plan, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Fleet” and “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Strategic Partnerships, Alliances and Commercial Agreements—TAP.”

As a result of our existing code-share agreements with United and TAP, our customers have access to more than 150 additional destinations worldwide. In addition, we believe that our strategic partnerships with these airlines provide our TudoAzul members with a broad range of attractive redemption options.

High-quality customer experience through product and service-focused culture

We believe we provide a high-quality, differentiated travel experience and have a strong culture focused on customer service. Our crewmembers are trained to be service-oriented, focusing on providing the customer with a travel experience that we believe is unique among Brazilian airlines. We provide extensive training for our crewmembers that emphasizes the importance of both safety and customer service. We strive to hold our employees accountable to maintain the quality of our crew and customer service.

Our service features include passenger seat selection, leather seats, individual entertainment screens with free live television at every seat in all our jets, extensive legroom with a pitch of 30 inches or more, complimentary beverage and snack service, free bus service to key airports we serve (including between the city of São Paulo and Viracopos airport) and a fleet younger than Gol and LATAM.

We focus on meeting our customers’ needs and had one of the best on-time performance records among Brazil’s largest carriers for the last four years, according to OAG, at 85%, 84%, 89% and 91% for the years ended in December 31, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively. OAG has also recognized us as the “Most On-time Low Cost Carrier in the World” and the “Most On-time Low Cost Carrier in the Americas” in 2018. In addition, our completion rate has been consistently high, totaling 98% in 2018 and 99% in 2017, 2016 and 2015.

 

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Well-recognized brand

We believe we have been successful in building a strong brand by using innovative marketing and advertising techniques with low expenditures that focus on social networking tools to generate word-of-mouth recognition of our high quality service. As a result of our strong focus on customer service, surveys that we have conducted indicate that, as of December 31, 2018, 89% of our customers would recommend or strongly recommend Azul to a friend or relative. The strength of our brand has been recognized in a number of awards:

 

   

Ranked among the ten best airlines in the world in 2017 and 2018 and best airline in Latin America in 2018 by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards;

 

   

Named “Best Airline in Brazil” in 2018 for the third consecutive year by Melhores Destinos, the largest web portal of airline fare promotions and loyalty programs in Brazil;

 

   

Named “Best Regional Carrier in South America” in 2018 by Skytrax, an aviation research organization;

 

   

Named “Best Staff in South America” in 2018 for the third consecutive year by Skytrax;

 

   

Recognized as the “Most On-Time Low Cost Carrier in the World” by OAG in 2018 for the second time;

 

   

Recognized as the “Most On-time Low Cost Carrier in the Americas” by OAG in 2018;

 

   

Named “Fastest Check-in in Brazil” in 2018 for the third consecutive year by the Civil Aviation Secretariat (Secretaria de Aviação Civil);

 

   

Named “Best Low Cost Carrier in South America” in 2017 for the seventh consecutive year by Skytrax;

 

   

Named “Best Low Cost Carrier in The World” in 2012 by CAPA, an independent aviation research organization;

 

   

Named one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in The World” and “Most Innovative Company in Brazil” in 2011 by Fast Company, a business magazine; and

 

   

Named one of the “50 Hottest Brands In The World” in 2010 by Ad Age, a leading marketing news source.

In addition, as a result of our strong brand awareness and focus on customer service, our TudoAzul loyalty program had approximately 11 million members as of December 31, 2018 and has been recognized with the following awards:

 

   

Named “Best Loyalty Program in Brazil in 2016 2018” by Melhores Destinos;

 

   

Named “The Loyalty Program with the Best Fares in Brazil in 2016-2017” by Melhores Destinos; and

 

   

Recognized as having “The Most Innovative Co-Branded Credit Card” at the 2015 Loyalty Awards Event presented by Flight Global, a renowned website recognized by the global aviation community as a reliable source of news, data and expertise relating to the aviation and aerospace industries.

Experienced management team

We believe we benefit from our highly knowledgeable and experienced management team. Our senior management, which has senior airline experience both in Brazil and in the United States, includes:

 

   

Our Chairman and Founder David Neeleman, a dual Brazilian and U.S. citizen, who has founded four airlines in three different countries, including JetBlue Airways. Mr. Neeleman also serves as Chief Executive Officer of our only operating subsidiary – Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (ALAB);

 

   

Our Chief Executive Officer, John Peter Rodgerson, who previously served as our Chief Financial Officer and our Investor Relations Officer, where he was responsible for implementing our financial strategy and cost structure since our inception. Mr. Rodgerson also served as Director of Planning and Financial Analysis at JetBlue Airways for five years;

 

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Our Chief Financial Officer and Investor Relations Officer, Alexandre Wagner Malfitani, who previously served as the Head of our TudoAzul loyalty program, and our Director of Finance and Treasurer. Before joining Azul, Mr. Malfitani held the position of Managing Director of Treasury at United, having also worked in the finance industry, including as a fund manager at Deutsche Bank and as a trader at Credit Agricole Indosuez;

 

   

Our Chief Revenue Officer, Abhi Shah, who has more than 15 years of experience in the aviation industry and has previously held executive positions at JetBlue Airways and Boeing. He was responsible for developing our yield management, network planning and revenue structure;

 

   

Our Vice-President of People and Clients, Jason Ward, who initially joined us in 2008 and played an integral role in Azul’s merger with TRIP in 2013. After that, Mr. Ward worked as Corporate Vice President at C.R. England, Inc., and from 2016 to 2017 he was Chief Operating Officer at TAP before returning to Azul in August 2017. He started his career at Morris Air, the first airline founded by David Neeleman. He also worked with Mr. Neeleman in marketing and sales at Southwest Airlines and customer services at JetBlue Airways; and

 

   

ALAB’s Chief Operating Officer, Flávio Costa, who has been part of the Azul founding team since inception and has more than 40 years of experience in the airline industry, having served as Technical and Operations Director at Pluna S.A., and OceanAir and as Technical Director at Varig.

Most of our senior management team has worked together for almost ten years and has been with us since our launch. All non-Brazilian individuals on the team are residents of São Paulo with permanent work visas. In addition to Mr. Neeleman, all of our principal officers are also shareholders in our company, and all are motivated by participation in our stock-based incentive plans, which we believe aligns shareholders’ and management’s interests. Our management team has focused on establishing a successful working environment and employee culture. We believe the experience and commitment of our senior management team have been a critical component in our growth, as well as in the continuing enhancement of our operating and financial performance.

To align senior management interests with our results of operations, we provide a leadership incentive plan based on the achievement of pre-defined company performance targets including operating margin, customer satisfaction, crewmember satisfaction, and on-time performance. We also have established a stock option plan for our leadership that vests over a four-year period. See “Item 6.B. Management Compensation—Stock-Based Incentive Plans.”

Principal Strategies

Adding larger, more fuel efficient, next-generation aircraft to our fleet

We intend to continue adding next-generation, more fuel-efficient aircraft to our fleet replacing older generation aircraft. In addition to providing us with leading low seat costs, these aircraft have more seats contributing to an increase in revenue generated from connecting traffic, TudoAzul, our cargo business, and our travel package business. Based on our current firm orders, between 2019 and 2023, we expect to add approximately 46 next-generation E-195 E2 aircraft, 50 next-generation Airbus 320neos and five next-generation Airbus A330-900neo widebody aircraft to our fleet, replacing older generation aircraft.

We have begun to introduce next-generation Airbus A320neos, which have 56 more seats than our current E-Jets for longer-haul leisure service in December 2016. At that time, we started flying between our main hub in Campinas and our regional hub in Recife with our next-generation Airbus A320neos. This approximately three-hour flight provides us with a 29% lower seat cost than our current E-Jets and provides sufficient seat capacity to connect customers between both hubs.

We expect to introduce the E2s to replace current generation E-Jets starting in the second half of 2019. The E2s have 18 additional seats and a 25% lower cost per seat and a 14% lower trip cost compared to the E-Jets.

We believe that by applying this strategy we will continue improving our profitability going forward by reducing our cost per seat while expanding revenue.

 

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Increasing flight frequencies, connecting cities and adding new destinations

While most of our capacity growth over the next five years is expected to derive from the replacement of smaller aircraft with larger next generation aircraft, we intend to continue identifying, entering into and rapidly achieving leading market presence in new markets or underserved markets with high growth potential. We also intend to continue to grow by adding new destinations to our network, further connecting the cities that we already serve with new non-stop service, increasing frequency in existing markets, and using larger aircraft in markets that we have developed and grown over the years.

We intend to apply our disciplined approach of selecting new destinations that can be served by our ATR or Embraer aircraft, with a continued focus on Brazilian cities where we believe there is the greatest opportunity for profitable growth, and on select destinations in South America with perceived high growth potential. Our ATR aircraft give us a significant strategic advantage in the ability to enter new cities and access previously untapped demand, since these aircraft only have 70 seats and, therefore, require fewer passengers for the flight to become profitable.

We believe there are significant opportunities to connect the cities we currently serve with non-stop service where none existed before. We believe that our Embraer fleet is the ideal fleet type to connect such cities due to the combination of seat count and low trip costs. For example, Azul is the only airline flying non-stop between Porto Alegre and Cuiabá, two of our focus-cities where only we have the optimized aircraft for this service.

On existing routes that we believe present additional demand, we intend to increase the number of daily flights with our E-Jets to achieve or further increase schedule superiority over our competitors. For example, we increased our daily departures on the Campinas—Rio de Janeiro route from three to 16 between March 2009 and December 2018, and our daily departures on the Campinas—Belo Horizonte route from four to 11 between August 2009 and December 2018. By providing this additional convenience to our customers, we aim to continue stimulating demand for our products and services. We also intend to continue operating the A320neos mostly in high density, longer-haul leisure markets.

We plan to focus our international growth on connecting our strong presence in Brazil via our hub in Campinas, Belo Horizonte and Recife and our current long-haul international destinations Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Lisbon. We believe we are especially suited to stimulate additional demand for travel to key long-haul international destinations, which can be served by our Airbus A330s, by taking advantage of our focused domestic route structure, both in terms of passengers and overall connectivity throughout Brazil. We currently offer non-stop flights to 56 destinations out of our main hub in Campinas, and we continue to leverage our position as the largest airline in Viracopos airport by offering international flights as well as connecting passengers throughout Brazil. Additionally, our codeshare flights with United and TAP enables us to connect our main hubs with United’s destinations in the U.S. and TAP’s destinations in Europe.

Continue to unlock value from our TudoAzul loyalty program

As a result of the growth of our network, we believe there is an opportunity to further unlock value from our TudoAzul loyalty program. With approximately 11.0 million members as of December 31, 2018, TudoAzul has been the fastest growing loyalty program among the three largest programs in Brazil for the past four years, according to publicly available information of such competitors, including disclosure filed with or furnished to the SEC and information available on their respective websites. TudoAzul sells loyalty points to business partners as well as directly to program members. Our current business partners include financial institutions such as American Express, Itaú, Santander, Livelo (Banco do Brasil’s and Bradesco’s loyalty joint venture), and Caixa, retailers (including Apple, Walmart and Fast Shop), and travel partners (including Hertz, Avis and Booking.com).

In September 2014, we also launched an Azul-branded credit card in partnership with Banco Itaucard S.A. In addition, in December 2015, we launched Clube TudoAzul, an innovative, subscription-based product through which members pay a fixed recurring amount per month in exchange for TudoAzul points, access to promotions and other benefits. We also offer members the ability to buy points to complete the amount required for a reward, or pay a fee to renew expired points or transfer points to a different member’s account. We believe that our international flights and strategic partnerships with international carriers, including United and TAP, provide our TudoAzul members with a broad range of attractive redemption options.

 

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We offer last-seat availability to TudoAzul members and have significant flexibility to price redemptions in a way that is competitive with other loyalty programs, thus helping to maximize TudoAzul’s attractiveness. We actively manage the price of our redemptions, offering very competitive fares in points when seat availability is high and optimizing margin in peak, high-demand flights. We have also developed an exclusive, proprietary pricing system, which provides ample flexibility to price redemptions within a given flight. This allows us to sell seats using several combinations of points and money. It also allows us to customize pricing using a number of different factors, such as a member’s elite tier, membership in Clube TudoAzul, and age (allowing us to offer lower prices to infants and children). We are confident that this proprietary system offers more flexibility than those of our main competitors, therefore allowing us to create promotions, stimulate cross-sell of other TudoAzul products, and more accurately price redemptions to maximize profitability.

In an effort to maximize the value creation potential of TudoAzul, we have been managing the program through a dedicated team since mid-2015. On a standalone basis, TudoAzul’s gross billings ex-airline totaled R$980.3 million in the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to R$741.4 million in the year ended December 31, 2017. Given the number of exclusive destinations we operate, our network strength, and the expected growth of passenger air travel, credit card penetration and usage and member loyalty in Brazil, we believe that TudoAzul is a strategic business for us. As TudoAzul is our wholly-owned subsidiary, all of the cash flows generated by this high-growth, high-margin business accrue to our shareholders in a tax-efficient manner. We plan to continue investing in TudoAzul’s expansion and evaluating opportunities to unlock value for this strategic asset.

Continue to increase ancillary and other revenue

We intend to continue growing our ancillary and other revenue, by both leveraging our existing products and introducing new ones. We intend to focus on deriving further value from our existing ancillary and other revenue streams, which represented R$61.0 per passenger as of December 31, 2018 and included revenue from bag fees, upgrades, other passenger related fees, cargo services, sales of advertising space in our various customer-facing formats, and commissions on travel insurance sales. As a result of the introduction and increase of the next-generation Airbus A320neos to our fleet, we expect to have more seat availability for our TudoAzul loyalty program and our Azul Viagens travel package business as well as additional cargo capacity.

We also leverage our extensive route network and our strategic location at Viracopos airport, the second largest cargo airport in Brazil, according to ANAC, by offering cargo services. Our frequent point-to-point service, high reliability and on-time performance provide a significant value proposition for our cargo services. Our strategy of using spare capacity in our aircraft to carry express cargo and smaller packages further increases our efficiency. Our international expansion and the introduction of next-generation Airbus A320neos to our fleet, which have larger cargo capacity, contributed to an increase in cargo revenue of 56.5% in 2018 over 2017.

Continue to establish and extend strategic partnerships

As of December 31, 2018, we had code-share agreements with United, TAP, JetBlue, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Copa Airlines, Aigle Azur and Beijing Capital, as well as 27 interline agreements with a number of other international airlines, allowing us to handle passengers traveling on itineraries that require multiple flights on multiple airlines widening our network. As part of our plans to expand globally, we have established strategic partnerships with United and TAP. We view these and possible future relationships with other airlines as strategic ways of allowing us to expand our network with connectivity throughout the United States, Europe and Asia without having to commit the full resources on our own. We believe that our existing and future customer base are increasingly taking advantage of the ability to fly internationally, and we aim to be able to offer our Brazilian customers a seamless ability to do so, whether by purchasing tickets on partner airlines on our website or through connected and complimentary schedules facilitating onward travel outside of Brazil. In addition to facilitating a more global network for us through these partnerships, we are exploring a variety of cooperative arrangements, including additional interline agreements, code-sharing, access to partner airlines’ frequent flyer programs and possible cobranding efforts. We also see opportunities to leverage these relationships to facilitate greater operating efficiencies by utilizing partner expertise in maintenance, cargo transport and even possible pilot and crew training and redeployment, as well as redeployment of redundant or unneeded aircraft. We are exploring joint ventures and other arrangements with our partners to determine the most effective and beneficial ways to leverage these relationships for all parties.

We view our partnerships as critical to our global connectivity but also as a way to addressing macroeconomic pressures in Brazil. By working with our partners, we believe we have and can continue to adapt to changing economic conditions and do so swiftly in areas involving our fleet, crews and operating expenses. We expect to continue evaluating strategic partnership opportunities, including investments and acquisitions, that allow us to improve our network, offer more attractive benefits to our TudoAzul members, enhance our brand and build loyalty and revenue.

 

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Description of Our Products and Services

Our principal product is the scheduled air transportation of customers, which generates passenger ticket and non-ticket revenue. In addition, we generate revenue through our wholly-owned TudoAzul loyalty program, our cargo transportation operations, and our travel and tourism operations.

Scheduled Air Transportation

We target business travelers by offering convenient and frequent service to numerous destinations, 41 of which we served exclusively as of December 31, 2018. We also target leisure travelers with our extensive route network and our segmented pricing model, offering low fares for advance purchases. In connection with our scheduled air transportation services, we generate passenger ticket revenue and other revenue, such as passenger related ancillary revenue, cargo revenue through our Azul Cargo business, and the sale of travel packages, through our Azul Viagens business.

Passenger Revenue

We believe our extensive network and our range of product offerings allow us to attract high-yield business travelers, who we believe make up the largest component of our ticket revenue and customers. According to ABRACORP, we held a 31% share in terms of Brazilian business-focused travel agency revenue and our average business-focused travel agency ticket price was approximately 20% higher than those of our main competitor in the year ended December 31, 2018. By comparison, we held a disproportionately smaller market share in terms of total domestic passengers transported, as measured by RPKs at 19%, during the same period, according to ANAC, which demonstrates our competitive strength in the corporate market segment. We attribute this to our network connectivity, which provides business passengers with several connection options allowing them to more easily and conveniently reach their destinations, as well as to the fact that we are the only player in certain markets that are attractive to business travelers. Leisure travelers, by contrast, are typically more price sensitive than business travelers, but tend to be more flexible regarding flight schedules.

Passenger revenue also includes revenue derived from the sale of TudoAzul points to third parties. For more information, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—TudoAzul Loyalty Program.”

In the year ended December 31, 2018, passenger revenue was R$8,670.1 million, representing 94.7% of our operating revenue. Passenger revenue was R$6,695,3 million in 2017, R$5,786.8 million in 2016, R$5,575.3 million in 2015 and R$5,129.6 million in 2014, representing 86.0%, 86.8%, 89.1% and 88.4% of our total operating revenue, respectively. On January 1, 2018, we adopted IFRS 15, which impacted the classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary items such as bags, upgrades, itinerary changes and other air travel-related fees, since they are deemed part of the single performance obligation of providing passenger transportation. These ancillary items are now recognized in passenger revenue while non-passenger related items including cargo, travel packages, and revenue from aircraft subleases continue to be recognized under other revenue. The pro-forma impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the year ended December 31, 2017 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements. For more information about these changes, see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

Other Revenue

In addition to generating passenger revenue derived from the sale of tickets and TudoAzul points, we generate other revenue including ancillary revenue and revenue from our cargo transportation and travel and tourism operations. We generate ancillary revenue by charging fees for certain services, such as cancellation fees, change fees, no-show fees, call center booking fees, online booking fees and by selling travel insurance. On April 29, 2017, a new resolution was passed by ANAC allowing airlines to charge for checked baggage. We started charging for bags on June 1, 2017 and believe this will be an important source of ancillary revenue going forward. We also offer upgrades to our premium “Espaço Azul” seats that feature additional legroom in our domestic flights and to our “Economy Xtra,” “SkySofas” and business class seats available on our international flights serviced with Airbus A330 aircraft. Our “Economy Xtra” cabin has an additional three inches of legroom in a 2-4-2 configuration and our “SkySofas” are an innovative feature consisting of four economy seats with a footrest that can be raised to create a flat, sofa-like, flexible space for families to sleep together more comfortably.

 

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We also leverage our extensive route network and our strategic location at Viracopos airport, the second largest cargo airport in Brazil, according to ANAC, by offering cargo services. Our frequent point-to-point service, high reliability and on-time performance provide a significant value proposition for our cargo services. Our strategy of using spare capacity in our aircraft to carry express cargo and smaller packages further increases our efficiency. Our international expansion and the introduction of next-generation Airbus A320neos to our fleet, which have larger cargo capacity, contributed to an increase in cargo revenue of 56.5% in 2018 over 2017. In addition, as a result of the rapid growth of our cargo business, we have leased two used 737-400 freighter aircraft in 2018. We offer cargo transportation services to over 3,600 locations and we have 220 cargo stores across Brazil that offer our cargo transportation services. We transport cargo by air and hire independent third parties to transport and deliver cargo to its final destination by ground transportation. While we are liable to our customers for proper cargo delivery, our agreements with such independent third parties provide for our right of recourse against them if any losses occur during the ground transportation.

We also derive revenue streams from our travel and tourism operations, Azul Viagens, which combine airfare, ground transportation and lodging options. The travel packages we offer are either pre-built or flexible and customized and can be purchased through our website or, as of December 31, 2018, at one of the 2,100 travel agencies that offer our travel products or at one of our 43 free-standing stores.

Other revenue was R$483.2 million in 2018, R$1,094.2 million in 2017, R$883.1 million in 2016, R$682.5 million in 2015 and R$673.4 million in 2014, representing 5.3%, 14.0%, 13.2%, 10.9% and 11.6% of our total operating revenue, respectively. On January 1, 2018, we adopted IFRS 15 that impacted the classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary items such as bags, upgrades, itinerary changes and other air travel-related fees, since they are deemed part of the single performance obligation of providing passenger transportation. These ancillary items are now recognized in passenger revenue while non-passenger related items including cargo, travel packages, and revenue from aircraft subleases continue to be recognized under other revenue. The pro-forma impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the year ended December 31, 2017 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements. For more information about these changes, see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

Route Network

We offer flights to every region in Brazil and to select international destinations. The map below shows the destinations and routes we served as of December 31, 2018.

 

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LOGO

As of December 31, 2018, we served 110 destinations, including 100 cities across every region in Brazil, the largest number of destinations offered by a Brazilian airline and our flights represented approximately one third of the total domestic departures in the country. Our main hub is in Campinas at Viracopos airport, approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the city of São Paulo. From Viracopos airport, we provided non-stop service to 51 Brazilian cities accounting for 97.0% of 148 daily domestic departures from Viracopos airport, as of December 31, 2018.

Our second largest hub is located at Belo Horizonte’s main airport, where we served 41 domestic destinations and had a 61.3% share of that airport’s 139 daily departures as of December 31, 2018. This hub serves Belo Horizonte, which is the capital city of Minas Gerais, the third wealthiest state in Brazil according to IBGE.

We also built a regional hub in Recife, which serves 25 non-stop destinations, including non-stop international flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. We had a 54.6 % share of Recife’s airport’s 97 daily departures as of December 31, 2018. Recife is one of the largest cities in the Northeast of Brazil, and this regional hub allows us to increase flight connectivity within this region and internationally, making it our closest hub for non-stop flights to both Europe and the United States.

 

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Our diversified network allows us to connect not only our main hubs but also strategic airports throughout Brazil located in, among other places, São Paulo (Guarulhos and Congonhas airports), Rio de Janeiro (Santos Dumont and Galeão airports), Porto Alegre, Cuiabá, Belém and Manaus.

Domestic Routes

The chart below shows the number of non-stop domestic destinations offered by us and by our competitors at select airports as of December 31, 2018:

Non-stop Domestic Destinations by Airport (December 31, 2018)

LOGO

 

Source: Innovata.

The table below shows our top ten cities served by average number of departures per day and the estimated population within 100 kilometers as of December 31, 2018.

 

     As of December 31, 2018  

Airport

   Azul Average
Number of
Departures
per Day
     Estimated
Population
     Azul
Leadership
Position
(departures)
 

Campinas

     148        7,395,319        1  

Belo Horizonte (Confins)

     85        5,932,158        1  

Curitiba

     43        4,053,516        1  

Rio de Janeiro (Santos Dumont)

     37        6,750,548        3  

Porto Alegre

     38        5,148,699        1  

Recife

     53        5,579,221        1  

São Paulo (Guarulhos)

     35        12,614,146        4  

Cuiabá

     30        984,342        1  

Belém

     19        3,179,323        1  

Goiânia

     21        3,242,625        1  

 

Source: Innovata and Azul (Based on IBGE data)

 

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Our focus on providing a large route network with convenient service has enabled us to become the market leader in 71 cities and 32.4% of our routes in terms of departures, being the only operating airline in 41 cities and the leader on 84% of our routes as of December 31, 2018. By comparison, as of December 31, 2018, Gol and LATAM were leading carriers in 16 and five cities in Brazil, respectively. In addition, the routes in which we hold a leadership position represent approximately 82% of our total ASKs and 83% of our total passenger revenue.

The chart below shows the amount of cities we serve and the number of cities in which we are a market leader in terms of departures by cities served in comparison with Gol and LATAM, as of December 31, 2018.

 

LOGO

 

Source: Innovata

* Considers leadership in terms of number of departures

 

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The map below shows the domestic cities in which we are a market leader in terms of departures in comparison with Gol and LATAM, as of December 31, 2018:

 

LOGO

Our extensive network coverage allows us to offer more itineraries and connections than our competitors, which serve a significantly lower number of destinations. For instance, on the route from Ribeirão Preto to Campinas, approximately 94% of the passengers connect in Campinas to over 56 destinations served by Azul, including 23 destinations where we are the only carrier. Similarly, on flights from Cuiabá (one of our focus-cities, which connects to 18 destinations in Brazil) to Viracopos, approximately 95% of the passengers are connecting passengers heading to more than 56 destinations, including 23 destinations served only by us.

We believe our optimized fleet is uniquely tailored to the Brazilian market and to our growth strategy, allowing us to serve cities with different demographics ranging from large capitals to smaller cities throughout Brazil. For more information on our fleet, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Fleet.” As a result, we believe we effectively match capacity to demand by offering more convenient and frequent non-stop service than Gol and LATAM, which exclusively fly larger aircraft within Brazil, and we believe are limited to serving only a subset of cities profitably due to infrastructure impediments that do not affect certain of our aircraft. We believe we are effective in adjusting our capacity to meet demand by timing aircraft deliveries and maintenance schedules accordingly. We intend to continue to grow sustainably and profitably by further adding new domestic and international destinations, interconnecting the cities that we already serve and increasing frequency in existing markets.

International Routes

Our international expansion strategy is based on connecting our strong presence in various cities in Brazil with our current long-haul international destinations of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Lisbon and select destinations in South America. In addition, we serve other international destinations according to seasonal demand. For the year ended December 31, 2018, our international revenue represented 20.9% of our total revenue, as compared to 16.6% for the year ended December 31, 2017. We believe our main hub in Campinas, which offers non-stop flights to 51 domestic destinations and is the largest domestic hub in South America in terms of destinations served is uniquely suited to serve our international routes due to our focused domestic route structure, both in terms of passengers and overall connectivity throughout Brazil. Once in Campinas, our international passengers are able to take advantage of our full domestic route structure to connect to every region in Brazil. To enhance our connectivity outside of Brazil, we have entered into code-share and frequent flyer reciprocity agreements with United and TAP, as well as 27 other code-share and interline agreements with several other international carriers. For more information on our code-share arrangements and strategic partnerships, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Strategic Partnerships, Alliances and Commercial Agreements.”

 

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In March 2016, we established a strategic partnership with TAP, further supporting our plans to expand globally. For more information regarding our investment in TAP, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Strategic Partnerships, Alliances and Commercial Agreements—TAP.” As a result of this strategic partnership, in June 2016, we successfully launched a non-stop code-share flight between our and TAP’s main hubs, Campinas and Lisbon, respectively. As of December 31, 2018, TAP served 65 destinations, including 10 destinations in Brazil, and therefore was the number one European carrier serving Brazil in terms of number of seats and flights. Our flight to Lisbon enhances our passenger connectivity between Brazil and Europe and allows our business and leisure passengers to take advantage of TAP’s network to access key destinations in Europe. Furthermore, we expect to continue taking advantage of our network connectivity by adding select destinations in South America to be served by our narrow-body aircraft.

Customer Service

We believe that a high quality product and exceptional service significantly enhance customer loyalty and brand recognition through word-of-mouth, as satisfied customers communicate their positive experience to others. Based on this principle, we have built a strong company culture focused on customer service that serves as the foundation of a differentiated travel experience. According to surveys we have conducted, as of December 31, 2018, 89% of our customers would recommend or strongly recommend Azul to a friend or relative. In addition, we use the NPS mentioned to measure customer satisfaction and in 2018, our score totaled 61%, which is in line with the score of leading global brands such as Apple.

Crewmembers

Our crewmembers are specifically trained to implement our values in their interactions with our customers, particularly through being service-oriented and taking individual initiatives, focusing on providing customers with a travel experience that we believe is unique among Brazilian airlines. We strive to instill our “customer comes first” and “can do” approach in all our crewmembers, which is reflective of how we manage our business.

Product Features

We endeavor to provide our passengers with a differentiated travel experience focused on convenience and comfort. To serve this goal, we offer customers the following features:

 

   

a fleet younger than those of our main competitors, Gol and LATAM;

 

   

passenger seat selection;

 

   

leather seats;

 

   

individual entertainment screens with free live television at every seat in all our jets;

 

   

extensive legroom with a pitch of 30 inches or more;

 

   

complimentary beverage and snack service on domestic flights;

 

   

free bus service to certain key airports we serve (including between the city of São Paulo and Viracopos airport); and

 

   

four-seat “SkySofas,” offering full-length beds in certain economy class cabins.

As of December 31, 2018, our bus shuttle service between São Paulo and Viracopos airport had 219 departures per day across five different bus lines, transporting an average of over 49,000 customers monthly and featuring pre-boarding check-in services at most departure points. Our shuttle service is complimentary, and we believe that the associated cost is justified by increased customer satisfaction and passenger demand.

On-Time Performance

Our commitment to operating an on-time airline with a high-quality customer experience, which we believe is unique among Brazilian airlines, has resulted in us having been ranked as the most on-time airline in Brazil in 2018 and the best on-time performance among low-cost carriers in the world in 2016 and 2018, according to OAG.

 

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The following table sets forth certain performance-related customer service measures for the periods indicated:

 

     For the year ended
December 31,
 
     2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  

On-Time Performance(1)

     86.5     84.1     88.9     91.0     89.7

Completion Rate(2)

     98.5     98.8     98.9     98.9     98.7

Mishandled Bag Rates(3)

     1.6       1.7       1.8       1.9       1.8  

 

Source: OAG and Azul

(1)

Percentage of our scheduled flights that were operated by us and that arrived on time (within 15 minutes).

(2)

Percentage of our scheduled flights that were operated by us, whether or not delayed (i.e., not cancelled).

(3)

Number of bags mishandled per 1,000 passengers.

Strategic Partnerships, Alliances and Commercial Agreements

General

As part of our plans to expand globally, we have established strategic partnerships that allow us to improve our overall network, expand our international connectivity, offer more attractive benefits to our TudoAzul customers, enhance our brand and build customer loyalty and revenue. These strategic partnerships provide for expanded cooperation through commercial cooperation agreements, code-share and interline arrangements, as well as marketing initiatives, loyalty program reciprocity or benefit sharing, enhanced service levels at airports and equity and debt investments in us by our partners, or by us in our partners.

Our commercial cooperation agreements establish broad frameworks for cooperation in such areas as code-sharing, interlining, marketing, service and aircraft and engine maintenance, among others areas. Interline agreements are entered into among individual airlines to handle passengers traveling on itineraries that require multiple airlines, allowing passengers to utilize a single ticket and to check their baggage through to their final destination. Code-share agreements differ from interline arrangements in that they allow airlines to identify a flight with an airline’s code even though the flight is operated by another airline, which enhances marketing and customer recognition.

We have entered into a commercial cooperation, a code-share and frequent flyer reciprocity agreements with United and TAP and have entered into another 27 code-share and interline agreements with several other international carriers, including JetBlue, Etihad Airways, Air Europa, Lufthansa, Copa Airlines, and Aerolíneas Argentinas. We believe these strategic relationships allow us to increase our load factor on flights departing from Brazilian airports operated by our partners and expand our brand exposure internationally for our Brazil-based and international customers. Our code-share agreements with United, JetBlue and TAP allow us to sell flights to virtually all destinations served by these carriers, contributing to the growth of our international operations and offering our passengers additional connectivity beyond Brazil. Furthermore, our relationships with other carriers allow us to expand our cargo operations by offering these services beyond the locations served by our own aircraft.

As a result of these arrangements and relationships, our customers have access to more than 150 additional destinations worldwide. We believe that our strategic relationships with our partner airlines, particularly United and TAP, provide our TudoAzul members with a broad range of attractive redemption options and allow us to leverage our TudoAzul program beyond our own network. We continue exploring joint ventures and other arrangements with our strategic partners to determine the most effective and beneficial ways to expand our business and increase profitability through these relationships.

United

On June 26, 2015, we entered into an investment agreement with Calfinco, a subsidiary of United, pursuant to which it acquired Class C preferred shares representing a 5%, non-voting economic interest in us. Such Class C preferred shares were converted on a one-to-one basis into Class A preferred shares on February 3, 2017, which were then simultaneously renamed “preferred shares” and subsequently subject to a two-for-one stock split on February 23, 2017, resulting in United holding 10,843,792 preferred shares through a subsidiary. Pursuant to this agreement, United has the right to elect one member of our board of directors so long as it retains at least 50% of the Class C preferred shares it received on the date of its investment or preferred shares resulting from their conversion. United has designated a representative on our board effective as of June 26, 2015. See “Item 6.A. Directors and Senior Management—Board of Directors.” United is a party to our Shareholders’ Agreement, which provides for United’s right to elect one director, so long as they hold at least 50% of the Class C preferred shares it received on the date of its investment or preferred shares resulting from their conversion. For more information, see “Item 7.B. Related Party Transactions— Shareholders’ Agreement.” On April 27, 2018, United closed a private preferred share transaction with Hainan to acquire 16,151,524 preferred shares of our company increasing its shareholding in us to 26,995,316 preferred shares, representing 8.0% of our economic interest.

 

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In connection with United’s investment, we also entered into a commercial cooperation agreement with United on June 26, 2015 which governs the expanded cooperation between both of our companies with respect to certain matters, including (i) code-sharing, (ii) loyalty programs, (iii) special terms relating to passengers and cargo, (iv) marketing programs, (v) corporate accounts and sales contracts, (vi) employee interline pass travel, (vii) service levels at specific airports, and (viii) the negotiation of a commercial joint venture between us and United whereby we would share resources with United and split revenue related to specified matters relating to our and their route networks in order to optimize profitability for both us and United. To date, this joint venture has not yet been established, and we and United continue discussing objectives, the type of joint venture, revenue sharing and other matters.

Our alliance with United enhances the reach of our network and creates additional connecting traffic, as both we and United cross-sell each other’s flights on our websites. This arrangement provides customers flying on both airlines with a seamless reservations and ticketing process, including boarding pass and baggage check-in to their final or any other destination. United is a principal member of StarAlliance, but Azul currently has no plans to join such alliance.

We expect that our overall relationship with United, including the code-sharing, commercial and other arrangements that are either in place or being discussed by us, will increase international travel by Azul customers to the United States and other international destinations that we do not serve but which are served by United. We also expect that such relationship will increase traffic of United customers to and across Brazil via our network of domestic locations beyond the limited airports served by United in Brazil.

Hainan

In February 2016, we announced we were entering into an investment agreement with Hainan pursuant to which Hainan agreed to invest US$450 million in us in exchange for a 24% economic interest in us. In connection with the investment agreement with Hainan, we entered into a commercial cooperation agreement with Hainan on March 11, 2016, which governed the expanded cooperation between both of our companies with respect to certain matters, including (i) code-sharing, (ii) loyalty programs, (iii) joint sales contracts and marketing programs and (iv) recognition of elite member benefits. In August 2016, as a result of this investment, Hainan became our single largest preferred equity shareholder.

Pursuant to the investment agreement with Hainan, Hainan had the right to elect three members of our board of directors, all of which were elected in October 2016. Hainan was a party to our Shareholders’ Agreement, which provided for Hainan’s right to elect three directors, so long as Hainan held at least a 20% economic interest in us and owned the largest percentage of economic interest in us, taking account of TRIP’s former shareholders as a single shareholding block.

In June 2018, we announced a secondary public offering pursuant to which Hainan sold 19,379,335 ADSs representing all of Hainan’s preferred shares held in our company. The offering price was US$16.15 per ADS and no other shareholder of Azul sold its ADSs or preferred shares in the offering. As a result, Hainan is no longer bound to our Shareholders’ Agreement nor has the right to appoint any members of our board of directors. Consequently, the three members of our board of directors appointed by Hainan and elected in 2016 resigned to their positions in June 2018, following the closing of the offering. This public offering was part of Hainan’s strategic plan, which included capital raising initiatives, selected divestments and investments in airlines and companies in the aviation services sector. There were no material changes to the commercial relationship between us and Hainan as a result of the offering. On September 15, 2017, ALAB entered into a Deed of Guarantee and Indemnity in connection with its obligations and liabilities related to operating lease agreements of three A350 900 XW aircraft entered into among ALAB, Hong Long Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines (both companies of the HNA Group), and Wilmington Trust SP Services (Dublin) Limited.

TAP

TAP is the national carrier of Portugal and is a leading carrier between Europe and Brazil. We have had a long relationship with TAP since our inception, with TAP affiliates in Brazil providing all of the heavy maintenance for our Embraer jets (excluding engine maintenance), representing approximately 16% and 13% of our total maintenance costs as of December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively.

TAP was wholly-owned and operated by the Portuguese government until June 2015, when it was privatized. Atlantic Gateway currently owns 45% of TAP’s voting shares, employees hold a 5% interest, and the Portuguese government has an ownership of 50% of the voting shares. This structure remains under the assessment of the Portuguese Civil Aviation Agency. On March 14, 2019 we acquired a 6.1% economic stake in TAP for US$25 million.

 

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In connection with TAP’s privatization process, we invested €90 million in 7.5% bonds due March 2026, secured by an interest in TAP’s loyalty program, convertible at our option into newly issued TAP equity securities without any further payment by us. Under the terms of the TAP bonds, if and when they are converted, the shares to be issued will represent 6% of TAP’s total share capital and voting equity securities on a fully diluted basis, but will be entitled to enhanced economic rights, subject to customary anti-dilution provisions, to receive 41.25% of any TAP dividends when, as and if declared, as well as any other distributions by TAP, which would make Azul TAP’s largest equity holder by economic value. As of the date of this annual report, we have not made any decision to exercise the right to convert the TAP bonds held by us into TAP shares. The TAP bonds are subject to certain redemption rights by TAP if the TAP bonds are not yet converted, upon the earlier of (1) an IPO of TAP or (2) four years from issuance provided that TAP is in compliance with certain financial covenants set forth in the indenture. See “Item 7.B. Related Party Transactions—Strategic Partnership with TAP.”

In addition to our investment in TAP bonds, our relationship with TAP consists of (i) a code-share agreement providing for flights between Brazil and Portugal, (ii) further cooperation between TAP and Azul in maintenance, cargo and other areas and (iii) subleasing of 15 aircraft to TAP as part of our fleet optimization strategies. We have no other formal strategic partnership or other operating agreements with TAP, but are exploring other agreements and arrangements with TAP as a means of further connecting TAP and its widespread European operations with our Brazilian customers. We are also discussing the possibility of establishing a joint venture with TAP in order to jointly explore flights between Brazil and Portugal. We believe that such cooperation with TAP has the potential for significant synergies primarily through the joint marketing and sales of tickets and cargo for our flights as well as TAP’s flights between Brazil and Portugal.

Correios

On December 20, 2017, we and Correios announced the execution of a non-binding memorandum of understanding for the creation of a private integrated logistics solution company. On March 27,2019, we announced that we decided not to pursue a commercial agreement with Correios because we believe it is in our best interest to have the flexibility to enter into other more favorable commercial agreements and to participate in future competitive bidding processes of Correios for the distribution of domestic air mail. We do not expect the termination of the non-binding commercial agreement with Correios to impact our results of operations in 2019.

Revenue Management

Our revenue management model is focused on effective pricing and yield management, which are closely linked to our route planning, and our sales and distribution methods.

The fares and the number of seats we offer at each fare are determined by our internally developed, proprietary, proactive yield management system and are based on a continuous process of analysis and forecasting. Past booking history, load factors, seasonality, the effects of competition and current booking trends are used to forecast demand. Current fares and knowledge of upcoming events at destinations that will affect traffic volumes are also included in our forecasting model to arrive at optimal seat allocations for our fares on specific routes. We use a combination of approaches, taking into account yields and flight load factors, depending on the characteristics of the markets served, to design a strategy to achieve the maximum revenue by balancing the average fare charged against the corresponding effect on our load factors.

Our model of fare segmentation seeks to maximize revenue per seat through dynamic inventory adjustment depending on demand. By increasing price segmentation, we are able to ensure that we continue to attract and retain high-yield business traffic including last-minute seat availability for late-booking business travelers, which is integral to our revenue management, as well as leisure travelers who usually pay lower fares for tickets purchased in advance.

Utilizing the appropriate aircraft for a specific market enables us to better match capacity to demand. As a result, we believe we are able to enter new markets, cater to underserved destinations with high growth potential and provide greater flight frequency than our main competitors. With this model, we optimize revenue through dynamic fare segmentation, targeting both business travelers, who appreciate the convenience of our frequent non-stop service, and cost conscious leisure travelers, many of whom are first-time or low-frequency flyers, and for whom we offer low fares to stimulate air travel and encourage advance purchases.

 

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We utilize a proprietary yield management system that is key to our strategy of optimizing yield through dynamic fare segmentation and demand stimulation. We target both business travelers, to whom we offer convenient flight options, and cost-conscious leisure travelers, to whom we offer low fares to stimulate air travel and to encourage advanced purchases. We believe that our fare segmentation model has enabled us to achieve a market-leading PRASK of 29.54 real cents the year ended December 31, 2018. In addition, in 2018 our PRASK represented a 33.5% premium compared to Gol. We believe our superior network and product offering allows us to attract high-yield and frequent business travelers.

TudoAzul Loyalty Program

Our wholly-owned loyalty program TudoAzul, which was launched in May 2009, aims to enhance customer loyalty and brand recognition. TudoAzul had approximately 11 million members as of December 31, 2018 and has been the fastest-growing loyalty program in terms of members among the three largest programs in Brazil for the past four years according to information publicly available on the websites of Smiles and Multiplus, the loyalty programs of Gol and LATAM, respectively. TudoAzul members earn at least two points and up to five points per each real spent in tickets on Azul. Redemptions of points for one-way tickets start at 4,000 points and go up for more expensive flights. TudoAzul also offers a points plus cash option, in which tickets can be purchased using a combination of cash and TudoAzul points. Periodically, as a promotional tool, we may offer awards for fewer than 4,000 points. We believe that with a system that awards at least as many points as reais spent, customers perceive they are also receiving a higher reward for their purchases. At the same time, we believe that the variable amount of points required to redeem awards gives us flexibility in exercising discretion over the costs we incur in relation to these redemptions.

We offer last-seat availability to TudoAzul members and have significant flexibility to price redemptions in a way that is competitive with other loyalty programs, thus helping to maximize TudoAzul’s attractiveness. We actively manage the price of our redemptions, offering very competitive fares in points when seat availability is high and optimizing margins in peak, high-demand flights. We have also developed an exclusive, proprietary pricing system, which provides ample flexibility to price redemptions within a given flight. This allows us to sell seats using several combinations of points and money. It also allows us to customize pricing using a number of different factors, such as a member’s elite tier, membership in Clube TudoAzul, and age (allowing us to offer lower prices to infants and children). We are confident that this proprietary system offers more flexibility than those of our main competitors, therefore allowing us to create promotions, stimulate cross-sell of other TudoAzul products, and more accurately price redemptions to maximize profitability.

Most TudoAzul points expire two years after issuance. Frequent flyers achieve “TudoAzul Topázio” (Topaz) status when they accumulate 5,000 qualifying points, “TudoAzul Safira” (Sapphire) status once they accumulate 10,000 qualifying points and TudoAzul Diamante (Diamond) status once they accumulate 20,000 qualifying points during a given calendar year. Topázio, Safira or Diamante status is valid during the rest of the year of qualification and the entire following year, and provides the following benefits, among others: bonus points, check-in privileges at major airports like Viracopos, Santos Dumont, Confins, Brasília and others, priority boarding, higher baggage allowances, and dedicated telephone and e-mail services.

Since the program’s inception, TudoAzul members have generally demonstrated a willingness to pay higher average fares than those paid by non-members. We believe this is in part because of high customer satisfaction, increased passenger loyalty and because many of our business travelers, who frequently purchase more expensive, last-minute tickets, are typically also TudoAzul members.

Our current TudoAzul business partners, which offer TudoAzul members options to accrue and redeem points, include financial institutions such as American Express, Itaú, Santander, Livelo (Banco do Brasil’s and Bradesco’s loyalty joint venture), and Caixa, retailers (PayPal, Petrobrás Premmia and Fast Shop), and travel partners (including Hertz, Avis and Booking.com).

In September 2014, we also launched an Azul-branded credit card in partnership with Banco Itaucard S.A. In addition, in December 2015, we launched Clube TudoAzul, an innovative subscription-based product through which members pay a fixed recurring amount per month in exchange for TudoAzul points, access to promotions and other benefits. We also offer members the ability to buy points to complete the amount required for a reward, or pay a fee to renew expired points or transfer points to a different member’s account. Finally, we believe that our international flights and loyalty program partnerships with international carriers, including United, TAP and Copa provide our TudoAzul members with a broad range of attractive redemption options.

To maximize the value creation potential of TudoAzul, we have been managing the program through a separate, dedicated team since mid-2015. On a standalone basis, TudoAzul’s gross billings excluding the airline totaled R$758.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 and R$980.3 million in the year ended December 31, 2018, which we believe demonstrates TudoAzul’s growth potential.

 

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LOGO

Given the number of exclusive destinations we operate, our network strength, the expected growth of passenger air travel, credit card penetration and usage and member loyalty in Brazil, we believe that TudoAzul is a key strategic asset for us. We plan to continue investing in TudoAzul’s expansion and evaluating opportunities to unlock value for this strategic asset.

A sample of the key operating statistics demonstrating TudoAzul’s growth are set forth below:

 

     2018      2017      2016  

Gross billings ex-airline (in millions of reais)

     980.3        758.3        554.7  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total members (in millions)

     11.0        9.0        7.0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total partners

     76        83        57  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total points sold (in billions)

     44.9        36.5        28.0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Marketing

We strive to achieve the highest marketing impact at the lowest cost through efficient and effective marketing and advertising strategies. Our marketing and advertising strategies are consistent with our low-cost operating model. We believe we have been successful in building a strong brand by focusing on innovative marketing and advertising techniques rather than traditional marketing tools, such as print ads. Our marketing and advertising techniques focus on social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), email, websites, mobile marketing, and generating word-of-mouth recognition of our service, including through our TudoAzul loyalty program and our visibly branded complimentary bus service between São Paulo and Viracopos airport. Our marketing and advertising strategies also involve sales and promotion campaigns with our travel partners. In addition, we increase our visibility and brand recognition by featuring Azul advertisements on the individual entertainment screens at every seat in all of our E-Jets, which feature free live television on domestic flights, and by offering our onboard customers our Azul magazine (which is also a source of revenue, mainly from paid advertisements), snacks branded with our logo, Coca-Cola soft drinks and seasonal free premium beer happy hours. We also build our brand by offering our business travelers with our VIP lounge in Viracopos airport. Additionally, we engage in marketing by maintaining planes in our livery painted with recognizable symbols, like the Brazilian flag, and symbols supporting important social causes, like breast cancer awareness, a social cause that we have supported through our corporate social responsibility platform since our foundation. We also place logos of key partners on our planes to generate additional revenue, such as Sky TV and Coca-Cola. Furthermore, we engage in guerilla marketing campaigns (which consist of marketing activities conducted in public places, such as the airports and the aircraft that we operate) to enhance our brand recognition and provide promotions directed at our customers.

Awards

The strength of our brand has been recognized in a number of recent awards:

 

   

Ranked among the ten best airlines in the world in 2017 and 2018 and best airline in Latin America in 2018 by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards;

 

   

Named “Best Airline in Brazil” in 2018 for the third consecutive year by Melhores Destinos, the largest web portal of airline fare promotions and loyalty programs in Brazil;

 

   

Named “Best Regional Carrier in South America” in 2018 by Skytrax, an aviation research organization;

 

   

Named “Best Staff in South America” in 2018 for the third consecutive year by Skytrax;

 

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Recognized as the “Most On-Time Low Cost Carrier in the World” by OAG in 2018 for the second time;

 

   

Recognized as the “Most On-time Low Cost Carrier in the Americas” by OAG in 2018;

 

   

Named “Fastest Check-in in Brazil” in 2018 for the third consecutive year by the Civil Aviation Secretariat (Secretaria de Aviação Civil);

 

   

Named “Best Low Cost Carrier in South America” in 2017 for the seventh consecutive year by Skytrax.

 

   

Named “Best Low Cost Carrier in The World” in 2012 by CAPA, an independent aviation research organization;

 

   

Named one of the “50 Most Innovative Companies in The World” and “Most Innovative Company in Brazil” in 2011 by Fast Company, a business magazine; and

 

   

Named one of the “50 Hottest Brands In The World” in 2010 by Ad Age, a leading marketing news source.

In addition, as a result of our strong brand awareness and focus on customer service, our TudoAzul loyalty program had approximately 11 million members as of December 31, 2018 and has been recognized with the following awards:

 

   

Named “Best Loyalty Program in Brazil in 2016-2018” by Melhores Destinos;

 

   

Named “The Loyalty Program with the Best Rates in Brazil in 2016-2017” by Melhores Destinos; and

 

   

Recognized as having “The Most Innovative Co-Branded Credit Card” at the 2015 Loyalty Awards Event presented by Flight Global, a renowned website recognized by the global aviation community as a reliable source of news, data and expertise relating to the aviation and aerospace industries.

Sales and Distribution

We currently sell our products through six primary distribution channels: (i) our website, (ii) our mobile app, (iii) our call center, (iv) airport stations, (v) Azul Viagens freestanding stores, and (vi) third parties such as travel agents, including through their websites. Direct internet bookings by our customers represent our lowest cost distribution channel. Approximately 85% of all sales were generated by online channels in 2018, and approximately 85% of all sales were generated by online channels in 2017, which created significant cost savings for us. We intend to continue working to increase sales through online channels, in particular sales through our website and our mobile app, as these sales are more cost-efficient and involve lower distribution costs than sales through travel agencies. In conjunction with Navitaire, a provider of host reservation services and other ancillary services, including data center implementation services, network configuration and design services, we developed a direct connection to travel agencies using online portals that bypass expensive distribution through GDS, resulting in a considerably lower indirect distribution cost. This allows travel agencies to use common internet programming schemes, which have almost fixed low costs that do not vary by sales, to develop their front end, mobile and internet applications with a direct connection to our reservation system. In connection with sales booked through travel agents, we pay incentive commissions to travel agents who attain our sales targets rather than upfront commissions. We maintain a high-quality call center, staffed solely with our crewmembers, as we believe that having a high-quality call center is crucial to our culture focused on customer service. We charge a fee for reservations made through our website and call center to offset its operating costs.

Fleet

As of December 31, 2018, our contractual fleet totaled 143 aircraft and our operating fleet in service totaled 125 aircraft. The 18 aircraft not included in our operating fleet consisted of 15 aircraft subleased to TAP and three ATRs that were in the process of exiting our fleet.

Our operating fleet has an average age of 5.9 years, which is significantly younger than the average of 9.5 years of our main competitor. We believe operating a young fleet leads to better reliability, greater fuel-efficiency and lower maintenance costs. Our Embraer E-Jets seat up to 118 customers, our next-generation Airbus A320neos accommodate 174 passengers and our fuel-efficient ATR aircraft seat 70 customers, while the aircraft used by our two principal competitors in Brazil have between 144 and 220 seats. As a result, in the year ended December 31 2018, the average trip cost of our fleet was R$32,007, which was 25.2% lower than that of larger Boeing 737 jets flown by Gol.

 

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In addition to leveraging the strength of our domestic network and maximizing the growth potential of our loyalty program and cargo operations, in December 2016, we began adding next-generation Airbus A320neo aircraft to our fleet with lower seat and trip costs to serve longer-haul leisure and peak hour focus-city to focus-city service. For example, on long-haul flights such as a flight between Campinas and Salvador, the trip cost flying a next-generation Airbus A320neo is approximately only 5% higher than the trip cost of an E-195. However, as the next-generation Airbus A320neo has 56 more seats than the E-195, its CASK is 29% lower. As a result, by adding next-generation aircraft to our fleet, we expect to maintain market-leading trip costs and to reduce our CASK, both in absolute terms and relative to our main competitors.

The following tables set forth the composition of (i) our contractual fleet, which consists of aircraft that are contractually leased or owned by us and includes 15 aircraft subleased to TAP since 2016 and the 3 aircrafts in process of exiting our fleet, and (ii) our operating fleet, which consists of aircraft that are being operated by us, including spare aircraft, for the periods indicated.

 

Total Contractual Fleet

  

 

     As of December 31,  
   Number of seats      2018      2017      2016      2015      2014  

Embraer aircraft

                 

E-190

     106        16        17        17        22        22  

E-195

     118        56        62        64        66        59  

E-175

     86        0        0        0        0        5  

ATR aircraft

                 

ATR 72

     68-70        42        49        46        56        53  

ATR 42

     46-48        0        0        0        1        8  

Airbus aircraft

                 

A320neo

     174        20        12        5        0        0  

A330

     242-272        7        7        7        7        6  

Boeing 737 (Freighter)

     —          2        0        0        0        0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total Contractual Fleet

        143        147        139        152        153  
     

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

Total Operating Fleet

  

 

     As of December 31,  
   Number of seats      2018      2017      2016      2015      2014  

Embraer aircraft

                 

E-190

     106        9        10        10        22        22  

E-195

     118        54        60        64        66        59  

ATR aircraft

                 

ATR 72

     68-70        33        33        39        49        48  

ATR 42

     46-48        0        0        0        0        4  

Airbus aircraft

                 

A320neo

     174        20        12        5        0        0  

A330

     242-272        7        7        5        7        5  

Boeing 737 (Freighter)

     —          2        0        0        0        0  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total Operating Fleet

        125        122        123        144        138  
     

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Of the 143 aircraft that comprised our contractual fleet as of December 31, 2018, 20 were owned or held under finance leases or debt-financing and 123 were financed under operating leases of up to 12 years. Our finance leased aircraft and debt-financed aircraft were financed through credit facilities with different creditors, of which 15.5% was denominated in reais and 84.5% was denominated in U.S. dollars as of December 31, 2018.

 

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Embraer

We were the first and currently are the only airline in Brazil to operate Embraer E-Jets. We believe that our successful launch of the Embraer E-Jets in the Brazilian market was due in part to the significant experience of most of our senior management team, who were trained in operating and maintaining E-Jet aircraft in the United States. We believe this experience provides us with a significant advantage over any competitor that may seek to reproduce our model. In addition, our decision to purchase Brazilian-made Embraer aircraft has enabled us to access competitive local aircraft financing in reais from BNDES, Brazil’s national development bank, at rates below Brazil’s CDI overnight deposit rate.

We have a strong and close partnership with Embraer, which is headquartered in São José dos Campos, approximately 100 km from our headquarters in Barueri, São Paulo and approximately 150 km from our main hub in Campinas. Our Embraer E-Jets have a two-by-two cabin layout with no middle seats, and our aircraft are configured to offer standard seats with 31 inches of legroom and premium seats called Espaço Azul” with 34 inches of legroom. Our over-wing exit seats (four per aircraft) offer a spacious 39 inches of legroom. Embraer E-Jets are fuel-efficient, with fuel consumption averaging approximately 20% less than a Boeing 737 series, according to Embraer, and thus offer significantly lower trip costs than larger narrow-body aircraft. Embraer E-Jets feature state-of the-art fly-by-wire technology, which increases operating safety while reducing pilot workload and fuel consumption.

The new generation E2s, compared to the current generation of Embraer E-Jets, are expected to have 18 additional seats, accommodate up to 136 passengers and offer 25% lower cost per seat and 14% lower trip cost compared to current generation aircraft. Based on our current firm orders, between 2019 and 2023 we expect to add 46 next-generation E-195 E2 aircraft to our fleet between 2019 and 2023, with deliveries expected to start in the second half of 2019. In addition, we will serve as Embraer’s launch operator for the next-generation E-195 E2 aircraft. As part of our fleet transformation process, we expect to replace our entire Embraer E190/E195 fleet with next-generation E-195 E2 aircraft by 2023 contributing to a significant reduction in operating cost.

ATR

We are the largest ATR operator in the world, according to ATR. ATR is the world’s largest manufacturer of 50-to-70-seat turboprop aircraft. ATR turboprop aircraft provide significantly lower operating costs than jets, with fuel consumption averaging approximately 50% to 65% less than a comparably-sized jet. The ATR 72-600 is the newest member of the ATR family known for its high efficiency, dispatch reliability and low fuel burn. It features a new glass cockpit, communications and flight management system. Like Embraer E-Jets, ATR aircraft have a two-by-two layout with no middle seats, and our aircraft are configured to offer 30 inches of legroom, which is comparable to our E-Jets. We began operating ATR aircraft in March 2011 for two strategic purposes: to serve short-haul direct routes between smaller cities where jet aircraft would be less profitable, and to feed customer traffic from secondary markets into our existing network.

As of December 31, 2018, we had 33 ATR aircraft in our fleet.

Airbus

As part of our strategy to maintain a young and efficient fleet, we expect to add up to 50 next-generation Airbus 320neos family aircraft to our fleet between late 2019 and 2023. The next-generation Airbus A320neo replaces the A320 family, featuring a new engine option and other improvements such as aerodynamic refinements, large curved winglets (sharklets), weight savings, and a rearranged cabin that accommodates up to 174 passengers with larger luggage spaces, and an improved air purification system. Our next-generation Airbus 320neos are equipped with CFM International LEAP-1A engines and have approximately 15% less fuel consumption and less noise production compared to the A320 series, as well as an increase in range of approximately 500 nautical miles.

We began operating the Airbus A330-200, configured up to 272 seats, in December 2014 and currently have seven aircraft serving Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Lisbon with this aircraft. According to Airbus, the A330 delivers better economics than competing aircraft and meets higher environmental standards and provides greater passenger comfort. We also have an order for five next-generation Airbus A330-900neo widebody aircraft, with deliveries starting in the second quarter of 2019. This aircraft will come with 298 seats in a high-density configuration. The cabin interior will be divided into 34 business class, 108 Economy Extra, and 156 Economy seats. The A330neo will come with the most advanced passenger cabin today dubbed “Air Space by Airbus,” bringing together an enhanced experience for passengers and optimum performance based on comfort, ambience, service and design. Moreover, the A330neo reduces fuel consumption by 14% per seat compared to the current model, making it the most cost-efficient, medium range widebody aircraft in the market.

 

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The following table shows the historical and expected growth of our commercial operating fleet from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2023:

 

     2015      2016      2017      2018      2019 (1)      2020 (1)      2021 (1)      2022 (1)      2023 (1)  

Embraer E2

                                 6        20        32        41        46  

Embraer E-Jets

     88        74        70        63        48        34        22        10        —    

ATRs

     49        39        33        33        33        33        33        32        32  

A320neo family

            5        12        20        32        42        51        60        70  

A330 family

     7        5        7        7        10        12        12        12        12  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

       

Total operating fleet

     144        123        122        123        129        141        150        155        160  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

(1)

Assumes full completion of passenger aircraft commitments.

Fuel

Fuel costs are our largest operating expense. Fuel accounted for 30.6%, 26.7%, and 24.7% of our total operating costs for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively. Aircraft fuel prices are composed of a variable and a fixed component. The variable component is set by the refinery and reflects international price fluctuations for oil and the real/U.S. dollar exchange rate. This variable component is re-set monthly in the Brazilian market, as opposed to daily in North America and Europe. The fixed component is a spread charged by the supplier and is usually a fixed cost per liter during the term of the contract.

We purchase fuel from a number of distributors in Brazil, principally from BR Distribuidora, a subsidiary of Petrobras, Air BP Brasil Ltda. and Raízen Combustíveis Ltda., all companies authorized by the National Petroleum Agency (Agência Nacional do Petróleo), or ANP, to market products derived from oil for aviation throughout Brazil, with whom we have agreements to exclusively purchase all of our jet fuel needs in certain locations. Our agreement with BR Distribuidora sets forth that we have the obligation to exclusively purchase jet fuel from BR Distribuidora in the event BR Distribuidora installs new supply points in airports where we operate, provided that we have not already entered into a jet fuel supply agreement with another provider. Our agreements with BR Distribuidora, Air BP Brasil Ltda. and Raízen Combustíveis Ltda. are in effect until December 2021, August 2019 and June 2019, respectively. For our international flights departing from outside of Brazil, we purchase fuel from local providers.

International oil prices, which are denominated in U.S. dollars, are volatile and cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty as they are subject to many global and geopolitical factors. Airlines often use West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude or heating oil future contracts to protect their exposure to jet fuel prices. In order to protect us against volatile oil prices, we have entered into derivative future contracts in the past and may do so from time to time. We also have the possibility of negotiating customized hedging products directly with fuel distributors, with the purpose of locking in the cost of the jet fuel we will consume in the future, and protect ourselves against any exchange rate risk.

Moreover, building on our operations team’s significant experience with the E-Jet aircraft, we operate an active fuel conservation program involving reducing taxi times, taxiing using a single engine, and managing the aircraft’s load balance, angle of attack and cruising airspeed for optimal fuel-efficiency.

The following chart summarizes our fuel consumption and our fuel costs for the periods indicated.

 

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     For the Year Ended December 31,  
     2018     2017     2016     2015     2014  

Liters consumed (in thousands)

     1,033,712       939,908       880,941       906,778       789,150  

Aircraft fuel (R$ in thousands)

     2,644,261       1,848,195       1,560,223       1,917,606       1,955,036  

Average price per liter (R$)

     2.56       1.97       1.77       2.11       2.48  

Percent increase (decrease) in price per liter

     30.09     11.03     (16.25 )%      (14.64 )%      4.41

Percent of operating expenses

     30.6     26.7     24.7     29.8     36.2

Airports and Other Facilities and Properties

Airports

Most of Brazil’s public airports are currently managed by INFRAERO, an airport operator wholly-owned by the Brazilian government. Brazil’s airline industry has grown significantly over the past years and, as a result, some of Brazil’s airports face significant capacity constraints.

Airlines and service providers may lease areas within federal, state or municipal airports, such as hangars and check-in counters, subject to concessions or authorizations granted by the authority that operates the airport – which may be INFRAERO, the state, the municipality or a private concession holder, as the case may be. No public bid is required for leases of spaces within airports, although INFRAERO typically conducts processes similar to a public bidding process if there is more than one applicant. In other cases, the use may be granted by a simple authorization or permission issued by the authority that operates the airport. In the case of airports operated by private entities, the use of concession areas is subject to a commercial agreement between the airline and the airport operator.

We have renewable concessions with terms varying from one to five years from INFRAERO and other granting authorities to use and operate all of our facilities at each of the major airports that we serve.

With respect to our international facilities, we have entered into lease agreements or other occupancy agreements directly with the applicable local airport authority on varying terms dependent on prevailing practice at each airport. It is customary in the airline industry to have agreements that automatically renew. Our terminal passenger service facilities of ticket counters, gate space, operations support area and baggage service offices generally have agreement terms ranging from less than one year to five years. These agreements can contain provisions for periodic adjustments of rental rates, landing fees and other charges applicable under the type of lease and the extension of the concession term. Under these agreements, we are responsible for the maintenance, insurance, utilities and certain other facility-related expenses and services.

In 2012, the Brazilian government granted concessions for the operation of Viracopos airport, Guarulhos airport and Brasília airport. All of these three airports have been receiving capital investments to expand infrastructure, including the renovation and construction of new passenger terminals, as well as aircraft parking areas. In 2013, concessions were also granted for the operation of Confins airport, in Belo Horizonte, and Galeão airport, in Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian government is conducting public bids for granting of concessions for the operation of certain airports in Brazil. Between 2011 and 2017 ten airports have been privatized after bid concessions, including our two largest hubs, Viracopos and Confins. In March 2019, the Brazilian government concluded an auction for the concession of 12 airports grouped into three regional blocks – Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast, including our third largest hub in Recife.

Following the concession for the operation of Viracopos airport, our largest hub, in February 2012, a series of new investments for Viracopos airport have been made by Aeroportos Brasil, a private consortium that won the bid to operate Viracopos airport. In April 2016, Aeroportos Brasil transferred all operations to a new passenger terminal, which is approximately six times larger than the old terminal. Total investments at Viracopos airport totaled approximately R$3.0 billion between 2012 and 2016. According to Aeroportos Brasil, Viracopos airport is expected to reach 80 million passengers per year by 2030, which would make it the largest airport in Latin America in terms of number of passengers served. We believe this exemplifies Viracopos’ status as a major airport for the city of São Paulo due to its strategic proximity to the city and its capacity for expansion.

 

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As a result of the transfer of our operations to the new passenger terminal at Viracopos airport, we signed a “Terminal Transfer Incentive Agreement” with Aeroportos Brasil which established a detailed construction schedule for this new terminal and gave us certain rights to impose penalties in the event of noncompliance. Due to the fact that Aeroportos Brasil has not complied with certain contractual obligations under this agreement, we have retained 40% of the airport landing fees since February 2017. As a result of this retention, Aeroportos Brasil filed a collection action against us, which was settled in May 2018. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, we agreed to carry out certain parts of the construction of the new terminal at Viracopos Airport using the airport landing tariffs retained from Aeroportos Brasil. For more information on this proceeding, see “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information —Legal Proceedings.”

In addition, on July 28, 2017, Aeroportos Brasil announced its intention to relinquish the operation of Viracopos airport to the Brazilian Federal Government within 24 months through an “amicable return.” In accordance with article 13 and pursuant to Law 13448, as of June 5, 2017, ANAC has formally initiated a re-bidding process for the concession to a new operator. Accordingly, ANAC will (i) suspend concession forfeiture proceedings; (ii) amend the concession agreement entered into with Aeroportos Brasil to determine the covenants and minimum services to be rendered during the re-bidding process; (iii) issue a technical and economic viability study, public bidding rules and a new concession agreement. The re-bidding process will be further regulated by decrees to be enacted by the Brazilian Federal Government and is expected to conclude, pursuant to Law 13448, within 24 months. ANAC has expressed, however, an intention to conclude the re-bidding process within 12 months. Once the proceeding is concluded, the operation of Viracopos airport should be transferred to a new operator (in case the re-bidding is successful) or otherwise returned to the government. However, according to the information available, this process of re-bidding is on hold.

In February 2018, ANAC started an administrative proceeding to terminate the concession for the Viracopos airport. However, Aeroportos Brasil filed a judicial claim to prevent the administrative proceeding to terminate the concession. As of December 31, 2018, a preliminary court decision suspended ANAC’s administrative proceeding, but a final court ruling is still pending.

Notwithstanding the procedure initiated by ANAC, on May 5, 2018, Aeroportos Brasil filed for a judicial reorganization proceeding before the court of Campinas, State of São Paulo, seeking to reorganize Viracopos’s capital structure through a reorganization plan to be approved by its creditors and confirmed by the court. The court allowed the case to proceed on May 23, 2018 and Aeroportos Brasil filed the proposed reorganization plan of Viracopos on July 27, 2018. A creditors’ meeting is scheduled for May 16, 2019 and May 30, 2019 to vote on the approval of such plan. The rejection of the proposed plan may result in the judicial reorganization proceeding being converted into a liquidation proceeding. Although we are not a creditor subject to Viracopos’ judicial reorganization, we monitor the case to assess the potential impacts on (i) Viracopos’ activities; (ii) the settlement we entered into with Aeroportos Brasil; and (iii) the Terminal Transfer Incentive Agreement entered into with Aeroportos Brasil.

Our second largest hub is Confins airport, the main airport in Belo Horizonte, whose concession was granted to private operators in 2013. In 2016, the concession concluded the construction of a new passenger terminal increasing Confins airport’s capacity to up to 22 million passengers per year. We are the leading carrier at Confins airport with a 59.2% share of total departures to 41 destinations as of December 31, 2017.

In July of 2014, ANAC enacted a resolution establishing new procedures to allocate slots in airports operating at full capacity. Through such allocation, we received 26 new slots at Congonhas airport. In November 2014, we started operating 13 daily flights from Congonhas airport to some of our most profitable markets including Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba, leveraging the connectivity we have in these cities and expanding our flights available to São Paulo passengers.

We built a regional hub in Recife to increase flight connectivity within the Northeast region of Brazil. Recife has the largest GDP of Brazil’s Northeast region according to IBGE and is our closest Latin American hub for non-stop flights to both Europe and the United States. Our Recife regional hub serves 25 non-stop destinations, including non-stop international flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, and we had a 54.6% share of Recife airport’s 97 daily departures as of December 31, 2018. Our diversified network allows us to connect not only our main hubs but also strategic destinations throughout Brazil such as São Paulo (Guarulhos and Congonhas airports), Rio de Janeiro (Santos Dumont and Galeão airports), Porto Alegre, Cuiabá and Manaus.

 

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Other Facilities and Properties

Our primary corporate offices and headquarters are located in the city of Barueri, state of São Paulo, where we lease 8,178.33 square meters under two lease agreements that expire in February and in December 2022. We also entered into a lease agreement for a warehouse and office complex in Fort Lauderdale, United States.

We lease four hangars at our full capability maintenance center in Belo Horizonte, where we perform airframe heavy checks, line maintenance, painting and interior refurbishment of our ATR aircraft and E-Jets. We also lease one hangar in Manaus and Cuiabá for E-Jets and ATR line maintenance. In addition, in 2018 we started to build a full capability maintenance center for our E-Jets and Airbus at Viracopos airport, which is expected to be concluded by the end of 2019. Our training facility for pilot and cabin crew education, UniAzul, has 71,000 square feet and four simulator bays and is located less than a mile away from Viracopos airport, our main hub. This facility provides training services both for our own crewmembers, including pilots, and for third parties on a commercial basis. At UniAzul we train all of our crewmembers, including pilots, flight attendants and maintenance technicians. As part of our extensive training program at UniAzul we operate two E-Jet flight simulators, one ATR flight simulator and one A320 flight simulator, all of them with full-flight capacity, a technology we believe none of our main competitors has. We also provide training and grant access to our onsite flight simulators to third-parties, including TAP, Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force. We have plans to expand the training programs offered at UniAzul through partnerships with technical schools and universities.

Competition

Domestic

The two largest airlines in Brazil in terms of RPK share are Gol and LATAM. Both Gol and LATAM operate similar hub-and-spoke networks, which require that passengers on many of their routes connect through the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Brasília. We face competition mainly from Gol and LATAM, and to a lesser extent from Avianca Brasil. The principal competitive factors on these routes that are served by more than one airline are fares, total price, flight schedules, aircraft type, passenger amenities, number of routes served from a city, customer service, on-time performance, safety record and reputation, code-sharing relationships, and frequent flyer programs and redemption opportunities.

As a result of our innovative business model, which is based on stimulating demand in underserved markets, we believe we are less susceptible to the effects of fare competition involving our main competitors, which fly from the airports in the city of São Paulo. As of December 31, 2018, 29% and 19% of our domestic network overlapped with that of Gol and LATAM, respectively, while Gol’s and LATAM’s networks had an overlap of approximately 88% with each other. In Campinas, our primary hub, only 2 out of 51 domestic destinations faced direct competition from Gol or LATAM as of December 31, 2018. While Gol, LATAM or any other airline may enter the markets we currently serve exclusively or in which we hold a large market share, we believe that our extensive connectivity allows us to avoid competition in numerous of the markets we serve, in particular from our competitors operating larger aircraft such as Gol and LATAM as it is more difficult to profitably serve our markets with larger aircraft. See “—Route Network.”

Before we started our operations, Gol and LATAM controlled over 90% of the Brazilian airline market in terms of RPK share. From 2008 to 2015, the Brazilian airline market has grown significantly, partially because of (i) our entry into the market, which stimulated demand, and (ii) the organic growth of the market, with more individuals using airline transportation services. As a result, despite the fact that Gol and LATAM lost market share following our entry into the market, the number of passengers transported by both airlines increased in that time period. As of December 31, 2018, we had an 18.6% market share of domestic RPKs, according to ANAC.

In December, 2018, Avianca Brasil filed for judicial reorganization (recuperação judicial) and on April 5, 2019, Avianca Brasil’s creditors approved a restructuring plan presented by Avianca Brasil, which provides for the creation of special purpose vehicles to which Avianca Brasil will contribute certain assets and rights. The sale of such special purpose vehicles will be carried out through a public auction, pursuant to the Brazilian Bankruptcy Law, which is scheduled for May 7, 2019 and the potential proceeds from the sale shall be used to pay the creditors. Avianca Brasil’s judicial reorganization may affect the Brazilian airline industry. As of April 30, 2019, Avianca Brasil had cancelled the majority of its flights.

 

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The following table sets forth the historical market shares on domestic routes, based on revenue passenger kilometers, of the significant airlines in Brazil for each of the periods indicated:

 

Domestic Market Share— Scheduled Airlines

   2014     2015     2016     2017     2018  

Gol

     36.1     35.9     36.0     36.2     35.7

Latam Brasil

     38.1     36.7     34.7     32.6     31.9

Azul

     16.7     17.0     17.0     17.8     18.6

Avianca Brasil

     8.4     9.4     11.2     12.9     13.4

Others

     0.7     1.0     1.1     0.5     0.4

 

Source: ANAC

The following table provides details with respect to the competition faced on our top routes, based on weekly frequency as of December 31, 2018.

 

     At December 31, 2018  
     Flights per Day  
     Azul      Gol      LATAM  

Campinas—Rio de Janeiro

     16        2         

Campinas—Belo Horizonte

     11                

Campinas—Curitiba

     11                

Campinas—Porto Alegre

     10                

Belo Horizonte—Rio de Janeiro

     6        6        4  

Belo Horizonte—Vitória

     6                

Belo Horizonte—Montes Claros

     4        1         

Campinas—Cuiabá

     6                

Campinas—São Jose do Rio Preto

     5                

Campinas—Ribeirão Preto

     4                

Salvador—Recife

     5                

 

Source: Innovata

In addition to other airlines, our competitors also include companies catering to other forms of transportation, principally bus services. We believe that many of our fares are competitive with the cost of road travel on many of our routes, in particular the discounted fares we offer through our yield management system for advance purchases.

International

We currently are the only carrier in Viracopos airport that offers non-stop service to the United States and Europe. As we expand our international services to select international destinations, our pool of competitors may increase and we may face competition from Brazilian, North American, South American and other foreign airlines that are already established in the international market and that participate in strategic alliances and code-share arrangements. In addition, non-Brazilian airlines may decide to enter or increase their schedules in the market for routes between Brazil and other international destinations, which would also drive up competition.

In 2010, ANAC approved regulations regarding international fares for flights departing from Brazil to the United States and Europe, which gradually removes the previous minimum fares. In 2010, ANAC approved the continuity of bilateral agreements providing for open skies policies with other South American countries, as well as a new open skies policy with the United States. The open skies policy with the United States was approved by the Brazilian National Congress in March 2018. In March 2011, Brazil also signed an open skies agreement with Europe, which was initially expected to come into force in 2014 but still lacks the necessary approvals from the Brazilian executive branch in order to be considered and ratified by the Brazilian National Congress. These new regulations should increase the number of passengers in South America and may enable the expansion of our international services.

 

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The table below shows the 2018 market share of major airlines on South American routes to/from Brazil based on RPKs:

 

International Market Share—Airline

   RPK      Market Share  

LATAM

     29,557,396        68.5

Azul

     6,299,986        14.6

GOL

     4,159,298        9.6

Avianca Brasil

     3,137,300        7.3

Other

     2,215        0.0

Total

     43,156,195        100.0

 

Source: ANAC

Maintenance

Safety is our core value. Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul are critical to the safety and comfort of our customers and the optimization of our fleet utilization. Our maintenance policies and procedures are regulated by FAA, EASA and ANAC requirements, and our aircraft maintenance programs are approved by ANAC and are based on manufacturers’ maintenance planning documents and recommendations. We employ our own experienced qualified technicians to perform line maintenance services rather than relying on third-party service providers. All technicians are certified by ANAC and meet stringent qualification requirements. Our maintenance technicians undergo extensive initial and ongoing training provided by UniAzul and by our aircraft and engine manufacturers to ensure the safety and continued airworthiness of our aircraft. Our training programs are all approved by ANAC.

We have developed a technical operations organization structure and a Continuous Analysis and Surveillance System, or CASS, aimed at achieving the highest level of safety, airworthiness, customer-worthiness, dependability, quality and cost efficiencies of our aircraft fleet.

With this in mind, we have established an engineering and quality assurance department that oversees the compliance of all airworthiness requirements, and provides oversight of all maintenance activities in accordance with ANAC regulations and our CASS. Our engineering technical services set the standards and specifications for maintaining our aircraft and engines, monitor the performance reliability of the aircraft systems, engine and components, perform root-cause analyses of defects, and forecast long-term and short-term maintenance activities. We have also implemented aircraft and engine health monitoring programs to determine preventative or corrective actions. The newer generation aircraft and engines are able to transmit over ten times more performance data to the airline and aircraft manufacturer engineers, contributing to a higher reliability performance and improved safety. Our engineering and quality assurance crewmembers are trained and qualified in technical and airworthiness management with relevant aircraft type training and certification.

Aircraft maintenance and repair consists of routine and non-routine maintenance work and is divided into two general categories: line maintenance and base maintenance.

Line maintenance consists of routine, scheduled daily and weekly maintenance checks on our aircraft, including pre-flight, daily and overnight checks, any diagnostics and routine repairs and any unscheduled items on an as needed basis. All of our line maintenance is currently performed by our own experienced and certified technicians, primarily in Campinas, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte, in addition to other airports we serve.

Base maintenance consists of more complex tasks that cannot be accomplished during an overnight visit and require well-equipped facilities, such as hangars. Base maintenance checks are performed following a pre-scheduled agenda and work scope for major checks. The scheduled interval for such major checks is set forth in the ANAC Approved Maintenance Program, and is based on the number of hours flown, landings and/or calendar time. Base airframe maintenance checks (which do not cover engine performance and overhaul shop visits) may normally take from one week to one month to be accomplished, depending on the manpower requirements of the work package, and typically are required approximately every 18 months. Engine performance and overhaul shop visits are performed approximately every three years.

We currently perform all base airframe maintenance checks for our ATR aircraft at our full-capability maintenance facility in Belo Horizonte and outsource certain base airframe maintenance checks for our E-Jets, Airbus A320neos and A330s to FAA, EASA and ANAC certified maintenance, repair and overhaul providers.

 

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We hold concessions for three hangars at our ATR full-capability maintenance center in Belo Horizonte, where we perform airframe heavy checks, line maintenance, painting and interior refurbishment of our ATR aircraft. We also own one hangar in Manaus and Cuiabá for E-Jets and ATR line maintenance. In addition, we are building a full-capability maintenance center for our E-Jets and Airbus aircraft at Viracopos airport, which is expected to be concluded during the first half of 2020.

Our current strategy is to outsource all engine repair, performance restoration and overhaul shop visit maintenance to qualified third parties. As such, we have entered into the following long-term flight hour agreements with the following parties; most of such agreements require us to make monthly payments based on utilization and, in turn, these agreements transfer certain risks to the third party provider:

 

  a)

General Electric, or GE, the manufacturer of the CF34 engines installed on our E-Jet aircraft fleet—A power-by-the-hour agreement, effective throughout the period in which we operate each engine part of the agreement, which provides for comprehensive engine repair, performance restoration, overhaul, engine condition monitoring and diagnostics management of the CF34 engine fleet. Under this agreement, GE has equipped its GE Celma plant in Petrópolis near Rio de Janeiro to perform our engine maintenance since September 2012, resulting in a significant reduction in turnaround time and engine spares inventory, and avoiding the cost of shipping engines to the United States for maintenance.

 

  b)

Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer of the Trent 700 and Trent 7000 engines installed on our A330 and A330NEO wide-body aircraft fleet, respectively—Separate power-by-the-hour agreements, or Total Care, each effective throughout the period in which we operate each engine part of the agreement, which provides for comprehensive engine repair, performance restoration, overhaul, engine condition monitoring and diagnostics management of Trent 700 and Trent 7000 engines fleet.

 

  c)

CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, the manufacturer of the Leap 1A engines installed on our next-generation Airbus A320neo aircraft fleet—A power-by-the-hour twelve year agreement , which provides for the repair, performance restoration, overhaul, engine conditioning monitoring and diagnostics management of each Leap 1A engine fleet. Under this agreement, GE has the obligation to develop its GE Celma plant in Petrópolis near Rio de Janeiro to perform our engine maintenance with full capability by 2020, which will result in significant reduction in turnaround time and engine spares inventory, and will avoid the cost of shipping engines to the United States for maintenance.

 

  d)

Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer of the PW1900G engines installed on the E-jet E2 aircraft fleet—A power-by-the-hour twelve year agreement for each engine effective from the delivery date of the first aircraft and covering the repair, performance restoration, overhaul, engine conditioning monitoring and diagnostics management of the engine fleet.

To support the maintenance of our aircraft, we have entered into component flight hour services program agreements with various industry-leading specialists in the supply, exchange, repair, and lease of commercial aircraft repairable spares. These programs provide us with comprehensive inventory solutions for component repair, on-site inventory and access to spare parts exchange pools for our ATR, E-Jets, A320neos and A330 aircraft fleets. Such programs allow us to optimize our component maintenance costs, improve our cash flow forecasting and achieve the high standards of component reliability required to maximize our aircraft availability. These agreements require us to make monthly payments based on flight hours, and in turn, the agreements transfer certain risks related to the supply and repair of component parts to the third-party service provider.

We have entered into the following long-term component flight hour agreements with the following parties:

 

  a)

ATR — An agreement expiring in 2028 which covers the component repair, on-site inventory and access to a spare parts exchange pool for our ATR72-600 aircraft fleet.

 

  b)

Embraer — A warranty repair agreement expiring in September 2019 which covers the repair of components for our E-Jet aircraft fleet. A new component repair agreement will be negotiated with Embraer prior to September 2019.

 

  c)

Airbus — Separate agreements for both the A320neo and A330 fleet expiring in 2028 and 2027, respectively, which cover the component repair, on-site inventory and access to a spare parts exchange pool.

 

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Safety and Quality

We are committed to the safety and security of our customers and crewmembers and are certified by the IATA Operational Safety Audit, or IOSA, an internationally recognized quality and safety evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. We maintain an Operational Safety Team, divided into four departments: (i) Prevention (ii) Investigation, (iii) Operational Quality, and (iv) Security and Crisis Management and Humanitarian Assistance. All of our safety and quality team members have significant international experience in the airline industry and some of them have previously worked at international airlines and Embraer, which provides them not only with knowledge of airline safety and quality systems, but also familiarity with the fleet we operate.

The Prevention and Investigation departments are responsible for managing safety programs as conducting the Safety Report (voluntary and mandatory), the Human Factors, the Flight Data Monitoring, or FDM, and Line Oriented Safety Audit, which maximizes reactive and proactive actions to achieve high levels of safety. All of our aircraft are included in the Maintenance Operations Quality Assurance System, a troubleshooting and health programs that monitors performance and aircraft engine trends. This department follows all activities related to the Safety Management System, or SMS, including the SMS standards established by ANAC, which follows the highest recognized safety standards in the world. Brazil is ranked in Category 1 in flight safety standards by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is the same classification held by the United States and Canada. See “Regulation.”

The Operational Quality department conducts audits and inspections in all operational areas in accordance with a Quality Management System. These stringent standards and requirements are key to assuring the very highest levels of safety and quality throughout the operational areas.

The Crisis Management and Humanitarian Assistance department trains and maintain a Special Assistance Team, composed of volunteers that are trained for emergency situations. This department also conducts regular drills, trainings and relevant media training along with our Communications Office.

The Security department focuses on the protection of aviation operations against acts of unlawful interference in compliance with TSA and ANAC security protocols and is also responsible for the security of executives and VIP customers, as well as physical and electronic security at administrative and operational facilities.

We are the first airline in Brazil certified to use dual head-up displays, or HUDs, an advanced display of flight, navigation or other information superimposed upon the pilot’s forward field of view, which is currently installed in most of our jets. In addition to this advanced safety feature, the majority of our fleet is equipped with electronic flight bags, an information management device that helps flight crew perform flight management tasks safely. We believe we are the only airline in Brazil with onsite access to flight simulators with full flight capability. We maintain our aircraft in strict accordance with manufacturer specifications and all applicable safety regulations, perform routine daily line maintenance, and are part of the Embraer Aircraft Integrity Monitoring Program, which provides close monitoring of malfunction trends in systems and components. We also strive to comply with or exceed most health and safety standards. In pursuing these goals, we maintain an active aviation safety program, in which all our personnel are expected to participate and take an active role in the identification, reduction and elimination of hazards.

Our ongoing focus on safety and quality are reflected in the training of our crewmembers, who are provided with the appropriate tools and equipment required to perform their job functions in a safe and efficient manner. Safety in the workplace targets several areas of our operations, including flight operations, maintenance, dispatch and station operations.

Employees

We believe that the quality of our employees, whom we refer to as crewmembers, promotes our success and growth potential. We believe we have created a strong service-oriented company culture, which is built around our values of safety, consideration, integrity, passion, innovation and excellence. We are dedicated to carefully select, train and maintain a highly productive workforce of considerate, passionate and friendly people who serve our customers and provide them with what we believe is the best flying experience possible. We reinforce our culture by providing an extensive orientation program for new crewmembers and instill in them the importance of customer service and the need to remain productive and cost efficient. Our crewmembers are empowered to not only meet our customers’ needs and say “yes” to a customer, but to also listen to our customers and solve problems.

 

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We communicate regularly with all of our crewmembers, keeping them informed about events at our offices through town hall meetings and question and answer sessions and soliciting feedback for ways to improve cooperation and their work environment. We conduct an annual crewmember survey and provide training for our leadership that focuses on crewmember engagement and empowerment. In addition, each of our executives adopts a city and is responsible for meeting with crewmembers on a periodic basis to be an additional source of corporate communication and assistance. Our executives also interact directly with our customers when traveling to obtain feedback and suggestions about the Azul experience.

We aspire to be the best customer service company in Brazil and, as a result, we believe our crewmembers are more likely to recommend us as a place to work to a friend or relative. We have good relations with our crewmembers and we have never experienced labor strikes or work stoppages.

We are focused on increasing the efficiency and productivity of our crewmembers. As of December 31, 2018, we had 94 FTEs per aircraft, compared with 126 for Gol. The following table sets forth the number of our crewmembers per category and the number of FTEs per aircraft at the end of the periods indicated:

 

     At December 31,  

Crewmembers

   2018      2017      2016      2015      2014  

Pilots

     1,741        1,633        1,525        1,560        1,524  

Flight attendants

     2,351        2,217        2,150        2,161        2,097  

Airport personnel

     3,165        2,903        2,752        2,798        2,841  

Maintenance personnel

     2,063        1,835        1,724        1,790        1,764  

Call center personnel

     924        899        862        876        984  

Others

     1,563        1,391        1,298        1,348        1,291  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     11,807        10,878        10,311        10,533        10,501  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

End-of-period FTEs per aircraft

     94        89        84        76        76  

We provide extensive training for our crewmembers that emphasizes the importance of safety. In compliance with Brazilian and international IATA safety standards, we provide training to our pilots, flight attendants, maintenance technicians, managers and administrators and customer service (airport and call center) crewmembers. We have implemented employee accountability initiatives both at the time of hiring and on an ongoing basis in order to maintain the quality of our crew and customer service. We currently operate four flight simulators and have an extensive training program at UniAzul, our training facility adjacent to Viracopos airport. See “—Airports and Other Facilities and Properties—Other Facilities and Properties” and “—Safety and Quality.”

A national union represents all airline employees in Brazil. However, we do not have a direct collective bargaining agreement with any labor unions. Binding negotiations in respect of cost of living, wage and salary increases are conducted annually between the national union and an association representing all of Brazil’s airlines. Work conditions and maximum work hours are regulated by government legislation and are not the subject of labor negotiations. In addition, we have no seniority pay escalation. Since our FTEs per aircraft is lower than that of our main competitor, any wage increases have a lower impact on us, thus making labor costs less significant to our operations. As a result, we believe our results of operations are less affected by labor costs than those of our main competitor.

Our compensation strategy is competitive and meant to retain talented and motivated crewmembers and align the interests of our crewmembers with our own. Salaries, wages and benefits paid to our crewmembers, include, among others, health care, dental care, child care reimbursement, life insurance, funeral assistance, psychosocial assistance under our Anjo Azul program, school aid (granted to expatriate executive officers only), housing allowance (granted to expatriate executive officers only), salary-deduction loans, bonuses, pension plans, transportation tickets, food allowances and meal vouchers. We believe that we have a cost advantage compared to industry peers in salaries, wages and benefits expenses due to high employee productivity measured by the average number of employees per aircraft. We also benefit from generally lower labor costs in Brazil, when compared to other countries, which is somewhat offset by lower productivity due to government requirements over employee labor conditions and taxes on payroll.

To motivate our crewmembers and align their interests with our results of operations, we provide a leadership incentive plan based on the achievement of pre-defined company performance targets (Programa de Recompensa). We also have established a stock option plan for our leadership that vests over a four-year period. See “Item 6.B. Management Compensation—Stock-Based Incentive Plans.”

 

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Insurance

We maintain insurance policies as required by law and the terms of our aircraft leasing agreements. Our insurance coverage for third party and passenger liability is consistent with general airline industry standards in Brazil and we insure our aircraft against physical loss and damage on an “all risks” basis. We maintain all mandatory insurances coverage for each of our aircraft and additional insurances coverage required by lessors, although liability for war and associated acts, including terrorism, is covered by the Brazilian government. For additional information on our insurance coverage, see “Note 24. Other operating expenses, net” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

Environmental, Social and Governance Responsibility

Aviation is a key driver of sustainable development, bringing together people, businesses and communities. Safe, reliable, efficient and cost-effective air transport are important components of a broader mobility strategy to foster development. Since our inception, we have engaged in activities that promote social awareness aiming to be a reference in the Brazilian market of the transformation of individuals, companies and the society.

We are the sole airline in 156 routes of the 220 routes we serve and there are still several communities that are underserved or not served at all in Brazil. Each time we connect a new, previously isolated destination with other regions of the country, we contribute to the local development of such region improving employment, trade links and tourism. In 2018, we announced five new destinations, including Mossoró, São José dos Campos, and Aracati, and identified another 30 potential new destinations.

Our corporate social responsibility work also includes social projects, corporate volunteer programs and social campaigns. Pink October is one of the main causes defended by us. In October 2018, we conducted the largest breast cancer awareness campaign in our history, reaching more than two million customers and 12,000 crewmembers. We also support Operation Smile, an international nonprofit medical service organization providing cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide, and Vaga Lume, an entity that supports 121 communities along the Amazon River by collecting food, preparing meals, reading to children and teenagers in the communities, and offering library maintenance training to regional volunteers. Other organizations supported by Azul in 2018 included Litro de Luz, which provides lighting to underprivileged communities by installing light poles and lamps powered by solar panels, and Teto Brasil, which connects volunteers and local communities to work together to overcome poverty by improving housing and community infrastructure of families living in slums.

Respect for people is fundamental to building strong and lasting relationships. We take good care of our crewmembers by providing them with training opportunities and promoting equality, non-discrimination and diversity. For our customers, we offer a great customer experience including friendly, reliable and punctual service. We are continuously working to increase accessibility to our services. More recently, in 2018, our website adopted Hugo, a sign language assistant, becoming the first Brazilian carrier with a website designed to be disability-friendly.

We have the youngest fleet in the country and continue to make progress towards the long-term sustainability of our business by replacing older aircraft with next-generation planes that are more fuel-efficient. We expect that by 2023, all of our domestic capacity will be produced by fuel-efficient aircraft, namely the A320neos, Embraer E2s and ATR turboprops. Azul complies with all environmental legislation relating to the protection of the environment, including the disposal of waste, the use of chemical substances and aircraft noise, and also requires its suppliers to comply with several environmental management system procedures and to use technical audits to enforce compliance. In addition, Azul is the only airline in Brazil with an onboard recycling program, and in almost 4.5 years of the program, a total of 74,400 kg of waste has been recycled.

Dialog and transparency are the foundation of Azul’s corporate governance structure. We adopt management procedures that comply with SEC and CVM requirements and seek to guarantee international standards of transparency. In addition, we were the first Brazilian company to become signatory to the Brazilian Takeover Panel, or CAF, a private self-regulated organization for the Brazilian securities market ruled by the highest levels of corporate governance standards.

 

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Seasonality

Our operating revenue and results of operations are substantially dependent on overall passenger traffic volume, which is subject to seasonal and other changes in traffic patterns. Therefore, our operating revenue and results of operations for any interim period are not necessarily indicative of those for the entire year. We generally expect demand to be greater in the first, third and fourth quarters of each calendar year compared to the second quarter of each year. This demand increase occurs due to an increase in business travel during the second half of the year, as well as the Christmas season, Carnival and the Brazilian school summer vacation. Although business travel can be cyclical depending on the general state of the economy, it tends to be less seasonal than leisure travel, which peaks during vacation season and around certain holidays in Brazil.

The table below shows our average fare in reais for the periods indicated, reflecting our total passenger revenue divided by passenger flight segments for such periods:

 

     Average Fare (R$)  

Year Ended December 31,

   First Quarter      Second Quarter      Third Quarter      Fourth Quarter  

2014

     253.4        251.4        254.4        246.6  

2015

     250.8        238.9        258.6        274.3  

2016

     280.7        259.3        286.3        294.1  

2017

     283.7        279.8        308.1        344.8  

2018

     376.1        346.1        379.9        395.7  

Intellectual Property

Brands

We have registered, applied for registration or renewed licenses for approximately 92 trademarks with the INPI including, among others, the trademarks “TUDO AZUL,” “AZUL LINHAS AÉREAS BRASILEIRAS,” “AZUL FLEX,” “AZUL PROMO,” “AZUL VIAGENS,” “VOE AZUL,” and “AZUL CARGO EXPRESS.” Except for “VOE AZUL,” and “AZUL SOUND” which registration process are still under review by the INPI, the other trademarks have been granted.

We operate software products under licenses from our vendors, including Oracle, Trax, Sabre, Navitaire, Amadeus. Comarch, Lufthansa, Sita, Jeppesen and SmartKargo. Under our agreements with Embraer, ATR and Airbus we use their knowledge and proprietary information to maintain our aircraft.

Patents

We possess no patents registered with or granted by the INPI.

Domain Names

We have also registered several domain names with NIC.br, Brazil’s internet domain name registry, and other domain registers, including, among others, “voeazul.com.br,” “flyazul.com,” “azulcargoexpress.com,” “azulviagens.com.br” and “tudoazul.com.”

Regulation

Overview

Under the Brazilian Constitution, air transportation is a public service. It is therefore subject to extensive governmental regulation and monitoring by several federal agencies and entities. The sector is regulated by the Brazilian Aeronautical Code, which covers air service concessions; airport infrastructure and operations; flight safety; airline certification; leasing, taking security, disposal, registration and licensing of aircraft; crew training; inspection and control of airlines; public and private air carrier services; civil liability; and penalties for infringement.

Brazil has signed and ratified the Chicago Convention of 1944, the Geneva Convention of 1948, the Montreal Convention of 1999 and the Cape Town Convention of 2001, the leading international conventions relating to worldwide commercial air transportation activities.

 

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The National Civil Aviation Policy (Política Nacional de Aviação Civil), or PNAC, which was adopted in 2009, sets out the main governmental guidelines and policies that apply to the Brazilian civil aviation system. The PNAC encourages all regulatory bodies to issue regulations on strategic matters such as safety, competition, environmental and consumer issues, and to inspect, review and evaluate the activities of all operating companies.

Regulatory Bodies

The chart below illustrates the main regulatory bodies together with their responsibilities and reporting lines:

 

LOGO

The Ministry of Infrastructure (formerly the Ministry of Transport, Ports and Civil Aviation) supervises civil aviation services and activities in Brazil and is responsible for issuing governmental policies for the sector. The Ministry of Infrastructure reports directly to the President of Brazil and is responsible for the oversight of ANAC and INFRAERO.

ANAC, which was created in 2005, has full regulatory powers regarding the following:

 

   

guiding, planning, stimulating and supporting the activities of public and private civil aviation companies in Brazil;

 

   

regulating flight operations; and

 

   

regulating economic issues affecting air transportation and airports, including air safety, certification and fitness, insurance, consumer protection and competitive practices.

INFRAERO is a state-controlled airport operator that reports to the Ministry of Infrastructure. It is responsible for managing, operating and controlling all government-operated federal airports (i.e., those whose operations have not been transferred to private parties by way of concessions), including safety, operational conditions and infrastructure. With respect to the recently privatized airports (Natal, Galeão, Confins, Guarulhos, Viracopos and Brasília), although INFRAERO still holds a minority stake in each of them, INFRAERO is no longer in charge of operations, which are now handled by their respective private operators.

The National Commission of Airport Authorities (Comissão Nacional de Autoridades Aeroportuárias), or CONAERO, which was created in 2011, is a commission within the Ministry of Infrastructure. Its role is to coordinate the activities of the different entities and public agencies with respect to airport efficiency and safety.

The Department of Airspace Control (Departamento de Controle do Espaço Aéreo), or DECEA, reports indirectly to the Brazilian Minister of Defense. It is responsible for planning, administrating and controlling activities related to airspace, aeronautical telecommunications and technology, as well as military aviation. Its functions include approving and overseeing the implementation of equipment and navigation, meteorological and radar systems. The DECEA also controls and supervises the Brazilian Airspace Control.

 

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The Brazilian Civil Aviation Council (Conselho de Aviação Civil), or CONAC, which was created in 2000, is an advisory body to the President of Brazil with authority to establish national civil aviation policies, to be adopted and enforced by the Aeronautics High Command and ANAC. CONAC establishes guidelines relating to following:

 

   

the representation of Brazil in conventions, treaties and other activities related to international air transportation;

 

   

airport infrastructure;

 

   

the provision of funds to airlines and airports to further strategic, economic or tourism interests;

 

   

the coordination of civil aviation;

 

   

air safety; and

 

   

the granting of air routes, concessions and permissions for commercial air transportation services.

Airport Infrastructure

Brazil currently has more than 2,400 private and public airfields. Airlines that operate regularly scheduled flights primarily use public airport infrastructure, with 98% of total passenger traffic passing through a network consisting of 65 airports. INFRAERO is responsible for the operational matters of 59 of these airports.

A number of smaller, regional airports in Brazil are under the control of state or municipal governments and are managed by local governmental entities. INFRAERO is responsible for safety and security activities at the largest airports, including passenger and baggage screening, cargo security measures and airport security.

The Brazilian government is implementing a program to grant the operation of certain airports in Brazil by way of concessions granted following public bids. Concessions for the international airports of São Paulo (Guarulhos and Viracopos) and Brasília were granted to private parties following a public bid in February 2012. However, Aeroportos Brasil, the holder of the concession to operate Viracopos airport, has announced its intention to return this concession to ANAC. For more information, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Airports and Other Facilities and Properties—Airports” and “Item 8.A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information —Legal Proceedings.

In November 2013, Belo Horizonte (Confins International Airport) in the state of Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro (Galeão International Airport), in July 2017, Fortaleza International Airport, in the State of Ceará, Salvador International Airport, in the State of Bahia, Florianópolis International Airport, in the State of Santa Catarina and Porto Alegre International Airport, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul have also been privatized by way of concessions. The concessions for these airports have terms of between 20 to 30 years. Previously, a 28-year concession for São Gonçalo do Amarante International Airport, located in Natal in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, was granted to a consortium named Inframérica, the same consortium which currently operates Brasília airport, following a public bid in October 2011.

The following chart summarizes the concession conditions for these airports:

 

     São Paulo
(Guarulhos)
   São Paulo
(Viracopos)
   Brasília    São Gonçalo do
Amarante
   Belo Horizonte
(Confins)
   Rio de Janeiro
(Galeão)

Winning bid

   R$ 16.2 billion    R$ 3.8 billion    R$ 4.5 billion    R$ 170 million    R$ 1.8 billion    R$ 19 billion

Concession term

   20 years    30 years    25 years    28 years    30 years    25 years

Minimum Investment

   R$ 4.7 billion    R$ 8.7 billion    R$ 2.8 billion    R$ 650 million    R$ 3.5 billion    R$ 5.7 billion

Additional fee

   10% of annual
gross revenue,
equal to
R$1,770 million
for the term of
the concession
   5% of annual
gross revenue,
equal to R$
649 million for
the term
of the concession
   2% of annual
gross revenue,
equal to
R$107 million
for the term
of the concession
      5% of annual
gross revenue
   5% of annual
gross revenue

 

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     Fortaleza    Salvador    Florianópolis    Porto Alegre

Winning bid

   R$ 425 million    R$ 660 million    R$ 83 million    R$ 290 million

Concession term

   30 years    30 years    30 years    25 years

Minimum Investment

   R$ 1.4 billion    R$ 2.3 billion    R$ 960 million    R$ 1.9 billion

Additional fee

   5% of annual
gross revenue
   5% of annual
gross revenue
   5% of annual
gross revenue
   5% of annual
gross revenue

 

Source: Ministry of Transportation, Ports and Civil Aviation and ANAC.

Guarulhos, Brasília and Viracopos airports represented approximately 30% of total passengers transported in Brazil as of August 2016, including domestic and international traffic, according to ANAC. In 2011, for the first time since 1997, the Brazilian government increased landing and navigation fees at the busiest airports as compared to less busy airports and at peak hours.

Of the 60 Brazilian airports managed directly or indirectly by INFRAERO, 17 airports are currently receiving infrastructure investments and upgrades. The airport upgrade plan does not require contributions or investments by Brazilian airlines, and is not expected to involve increases in landing fees or passenger taxes on air travel.

ANAC has enacted Resolution No. 338, of July 2014, as amended, which sets forth new procedures for the distribution of slots in airports operating at full capacity. Under this resolution, airports operating at full capacity are deemed by ANAC “coordinated airports.” The following airports are currently deemed to be “coordinated airports” by ANAC: (i) Belém (BEL – Belém/PA); (ii) Cuiabá (CGB – Cuiabá/MT); (iii) Congonhas (CGH – São Paulo/SP); (iv) Curitiba (CWB – Curitiba/PR); (v) Guarulhos (GRU—Guarulhos/SP); (vi) Goiânia (GYN – Goiânia/GO); (vii) Foz do Iguaçu (IGU – Foz do Iguaçu/PR); (viii) Manaus (MAO – Manaus/AM); (ix) Maceió (MCZ – Maceió/AL); (x) Pampulha (PLU – Belo Horizonte/MG); (xi) Recife (REC – Recife/PE); (xii) Santos Dumont (SDU – Rio de Janeiro/RJ); and (xiii) Vitória (VIX – Vitória/ES).

This resolution increases the participation of airlines that operate routes in regional airports, which places us in a privileged position before our competitors. By the distribution performed in October 2014, we received 26 slots in the airport and in November 2014, we started operating 13 daily flights from Congonhas airport to some of our most profitable markets including Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba, leveraging the connectivity we have in these cities and expanding our flights available to São Paulo passengers.

Airlines and service providers may lease areas within federal, state or municipal airports, such as hangars and check-in counters, subject to concessions or authorizations granted by the authority that operates the airport—which may be INFRAERO, the state, the municipality or a private concession holder, as the case may be. No public bid is required for leases of spaces within airports, although INFRAERO may conduct a public bidding process if there is more than one applicant. In other cases, the use may be granted by a simple authorization or permission issued by the authority that operates the airport. In the case of airports operated by private entities, the use of concession areas is subject to a commercial agreement between the airline and the airport operator.

We have renewable concessions with terms varying from one to five years from INFRAERO and other granting authorities to use and operate all of our facilities at each of the major airports that we serve. Most of our concession agreements for passenger service facilities at our terminals, which include check-in counters and ticket offices, operational support areas and baggage service offices, contain provisions for periodic adjustments of the lease rates and the extension of the concession term. We have airport areas under concession and certain areas which concessions are being duly formalized in order to be renewed.

Air Transportation Service Concessions

Under the Brazilian Constitution, the Brazilian government is responsible for air transportation and airport infrastructure, as a public service, and may provide these services directly or by way of concessions or authorizations to third parties. ANAC is the authority empowered to authorize concessions for the operation of regular air transportation services.

ANAC requires companies interested in operating air services to meet certain economic, financial, technical, operational and administrative requirements. The applicant must be an entity incorporated in Brazil whose constitutive documents have been approved by ANAC, must have a valid Airline Operating Certificate (Certificado de Operador Aéreo – COA) and must comply with the ownership restrictions discussed below. ANAC has the authority to revoke a concession if the airline fails to comply with the Brazilian Aeronautical Code and any other relevant laws or regulations relating to the concession agreement, including if the airline fails to meet specified service levels, ceases operations or declares bankruptcy.

 

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ALAB’s first concession was granted on November 26, 2008 by ANAC and had a term of ten years. On November 20, 2018, ANAC granted ALAB the renewal of its concession for a new subsequent term of ten years. The renewal of the concession agreement or the granting of a new concession would depend on the rendering of adequate services by us, on the maintenance of the necessary authorizations from the Brazilian government to conduct flight operations, including authorization and technical operative certificates from ANAC and on the ongoing compliance with applicable statutes, rules and regulations pertaining to the airline industry, including any rules and regulations that may be adopted in the future.

The concession agreement can be terminated if, among other things, ALAB fails to meet specified service levels, ceases operations or declares bankruptcy. By the end of the term of the concession, the continuation of the provision of airport services depends on the extension of the term of the current concession agreement or the granting of a new concession.

Public bidding is not currently required for the grant of concessions for the operation of air transportation services.

Route Rights

Domestic routes

Until March 25, 2017, ANAC was the intermediary between airlines and airport operators regarding new routes, changes to existing routes and surveillance of allocated routes. After this date, pursuant to Resolution No. 440/2017, airlines negotiate the use of airport and aeronautical infrastructure directly with airport operators and providers of air navigation services prior to registering routes with ANAC. For airports defined by ANAC as “coordinated” or “of interest,” pursuant to Resolution No. 338/2014, airlines are still required to obtain slots. The implementation of Resolution No. 440/2017 permits more flexible and efficient networks to better serve demand for air services, principally in high and low seasons.

International routes

In accordance with Resolution No. 491, as of September 10, 2018, rights regarding international routes and the corresponding transit rights depend on the bilateral air transport treaties between Brazil and the foreign government. Under these treaties, each government grants to the other the right to designate one or more domestic airlines to operate scheduled services between certain destinations in each country. Airlines are only entitled to apply for new international routes when they are made available under these agreements.

ANAC has the authority to grant Brazilian airlines approval to operate a new international route or change an existing route, subject to the airline having filed satisfactory studies to ANAC demonstrating the viability of the routes and fulfilling certain conditions with respect to the concession for the routes. A Brazilian airline that received ANAC approval to provide international services may address a request for approval of a new or changed route to the Air Services Superintendence of ANAC (SAS – Superintendecia de Acompanhamento de Serviços Aéreos da ANAC). The Superintendence submits a non-binding recommendation to the president or ANAC, who may decide whether to approve the request.

An airline’s international route frequency rights may be terminated if the airline fails to maintain an Index of Frequency Utilization (Índice de Utilização de Freqüência), or IUF, of at least 66% of flights for any 180-day period, or if the airline does not initiate operations within a period of 180 days from the grant of the new route.

Resolution No. 491 also established that, after March 2019, low frequency international routes may be reallocated to different operators if an allocation request is made by another company and there are no other available frequencies to the country of destination. Low frequency routes are those with less than 50% of usage in the period of evaluation of 26 consecutive weeks.

In 2010, ANAC approved regulations regarding international fares for flights departing from Brazil to the United States and Europe, which gradually removes the previous minimum fares. In 2010, ANAC approved the continuity of bilateral agreements providing for open skies policies with other South American countries.

In 2011, United States and Brazil reached an open-skies aviation agreement to liberalize the air services and traffic between both countries, including, among other things, removal of restrictions on pricing and additional scheduled and charter services to the congested airports of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Both countries agreed to a transition period of five years; however, the agreement was only approved by the Brazilian National Congress in March 2018 and sanctioned by the President in office (Michel Temer) in June 2018.

There are ongoing negotiations between Brazil and EU to implement an open skies agreement but the final terms of the treaty have not been approved.

 

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Domestic Slots Policy

For certain airports that are classified as operating at full capacity by ANAC, passenger airlines are required to obtain slots from ANAC. A slot is a predetermined period of time during which the airline is allowed to take off or land at a specific airport. To obtain domestic slots, the airline must submit a request to ANAC, and ANAC will, in turn, distribute slots to the requesting airlines in accordance with the number of new slots available as per the slot allocation calendar defined by Resolution No. 338. Airlines may transfer slots with ANAC’s prior approval. An airline may lose its rights to its slots where service provision is below the quality determined by ANAC. In these cases, the slots are distributed to other airline companies by public tender.

Currently, there are a thirteen Brazilian ANAC “coordinated airports” where slots are necessary to perform scheduled flights: (i) Belém (BEL – Belém/PA); (ii) Cuiabá (CGB – Cuiabá/MT); (iii) Congonhas (CGH – São Paulo/SP); (iv) Curitiba (CWB – Curitiba/PR); (v) Guarulhos (GRU—Guarulhos/SP); (vi) Goiânia (GYN – Goiânia/GO); (vii) Foz do Iguaçu (IGU – Foz do Iguaçu/PR); (viii) Manaus (MAO – Manaus/AM); (ix) Maceió (MCZ – Maceió/AL); (x) Pampulha (PLU – Belo Horizonte/MG); (xi) Recife (REC – Recife/PE); (xii) Santos Dumont (SDU – Rio de Janeiro/RJ); and (xiii) Vitória (VIX – Vitória/ES). Additionally, there are eight airports declared as “airports of interest” which are also subject to slot coordination procedures (coordination performed by their respective airport operators instead of ANAC). These are: (i) Brasília (BSB – Brasília/DF); (ii) Confins (Belo Horizonte/MG), (iii) Florianópolis (FLN – Florianópolis/SC); (iv) Fortaleza (FOR – Fortaleza/CE); (v) Galeão (GIG – Rio de Janeiro/RJ); (vi) Porto Alegre (POA – Porto Alegre/RS); (vii) Salvador (SSA – Salvador/BA) and (viii) Viracopos (VCP – Campinas/SP).

Congonhas airport, which is the busiest domestic airport in Brazil, has a shortage of slots due to the lack of airport infrastructure to meet current demand. As a result, the number of new slots granted by ANAC at this airport is limited. New slots are awarded by public tender and generally only become available when they are taken from existing airlines as a result of disciplinary proceedings, or when airport capacity is increased. In the most recent distribution of slots, ANAC opened the public tender to all airlines that were qualified to bid. Airports in smaller and medium-sized markets, which are the focus of our growth strategy, do not require slots, which allows us greater flexibility in establishing our timetable when building out our route network.

In 2012 the Brazilian government also announced that as part of the incentive package, Congonhas, the São Paulo downtown airport, will be required to allocate more slots dedicated to regional aviation and, in relation thereto, has ordered, through Civil Aviation Secretariat (Secretaria de Aviação Civil), a redistribution of these new slots in 2014.

In early 2013, ANAC held a public consultation process to change its regulations regarding the redistribution of slots, with the aim of increasing competition between airlines. On July 22, 2014, ANAC enacted its Resolution No. 338, which benefited us by enabling us to penetrate major airports where the slots are currently concentrated with a few airline companies. In October 2014, the distribution of slots in Congonhas airport was completed and we received 26 new slots. In November 2014, we started operating 13 daily flights from Congonhas airport to some of our most profitable markets including Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba, leveraging the connectivity we have in these cities and expanding our flights available to São Paulo passengers.

Import of Aircraft into Brazil

Any civil or commercial aircraft must be certified in advance by ANAC before being imported into Brazil. Once certified, the aircraft may be imported in the same way as other goods. Following import, the importer must register the aircraft with the Brazilian Aeronautical Registry (Registro Aeronáutico Brasileiro).

Registration of Aircraft

Brazilian aircraft must have a certificate of registration (certificado de matrícula) and a valid certificate of airworthiness (certificado de aeronavegabilidade), both of which are issued by the RAB after technical inspection of the aircraft by ANAC. The certificate of registration establishes that the aircraft has Brazilian nationality and serves as proof of its enrollment with the aviation authority. The certificate of airworthiness, which is generally valid for 15 years from the date of ANAC’s initial inspection, authorizes the aircraft to fly in Brazilian airspace, subject to continuing compliance with certain technical requirements and conditions. An aircraft’s registration may be cancelled if the aircraft is not in compliance with the requirements for registration and, in particular, if it has failed to comply with any applicable safety requirements specified by ANAC or the Brazilian Aeronautical Code.

All information relating to the contractual status of an aircraft, including title documents, operating leases and mortgages, must be filed with the RAB in order to update public records.

 

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Fares

Brazilian regulations allow airlines to establish their own domestic fares without prior approval from the Brazilian government or any other authority. However, ANAC regularly monitors domestic fares. In particular, under regulations published in 2010, Brazilian airlines must report their monthly prices to ANAC by the last business day of each month.

Baggage Charge

According to ANAC’s Resolution 400 of December 13, 2016 (General Conditions of Air Transport), or Resolution 400, which became effective on March 14, 2017 (but had its applicability and effects suspended until April 29, 2017) airlines are allowed to charge for checked baggage. On June 1, 2017, we started charging our passengers a fee for checked baggage and believe this will be an important source of revenue going forward. We note, however, that based on (i) court rulings that have suspended and then re-established the applicability of Resolution 400 and (ii) discussions of the legality of charges for checked baggage in connection with proposed legislation currently under review by Brazil’s legislature, an amendment of Resolution 400 may adversely affect our ability to charge for checked baggage and resulting ancillary revenue from the unbundling of our products.

General Conditions Applicable to Air Transportation

On December 14, 2016, ANAC approved Resolution No. 400, of December 2016, which sets forth certain general conditions applicable to air transportation. Resolution No. 400 was enacted on March 14, 2017 for all flight tickets purchased on and after this date. This resolution establishes boarding documentation requirements, provides customers with a 24 hour post-purchase period to cancel a flight ticket without charge, reduces repayment periods, increases the baggage allowance, allows for free passenger name corrections on flight tickets, guarantees return tickets in the event a one-way cancellation is made in advance for a domestic flight and simplifies the return and compensation process for lost baggage.

Restrictions on the Ownership of Shares in Air Transportation Service Providers

On December 13, 2018, the Brazilian Federal government issued provisional measure MP 863/2018, a new rule amending the Brazilian Aeronautical Code, which established that at least 80% of the voting stock of a company that holds a concession to provide scheduled air transportation services must be held directly or indirectly by Brazilian citizens, and the company must be managed exclusively by Brazilian citizens. MP 863/2018 allows foreign shareholders to hold up to 100% of the voting stock of Brazilian airlines companies and lifts the restriction on foreign management of domestic carriers. Thus, regardless of the company’s capital origin, as long as the legal entity is incorporated under Brazilian law, there are no restrictions on the foreign capital interest in such entities. While MP 863/18 is effective immediately, it is only a temporary measure that will expire within 120 days of its issuance and it must still be approved by the Brazilian House of Representatives and the Brazilian Senate, as well as signed by the President before it becomes a permanent law. Approval of this measure may occur in the first half of 2019. Also, during this legislative process, amendments to the text of the rule may be proposed and subsequently adopted, thus the final draft of the rule is potentially subject to change.

Our subsidiary ALAB, holder of our concession, complies with the requirements of the Brazilian Aeronautical Code prior to the issuance of MP 863/2018. In addition, 100% of our voting stock is held by Brazilian citizens.

Environmental Regulation

Brazilian airlines are subject to various federal, state and municipal laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, including the disposal of waste, the use of chemical substances and aircraft noise. These laws and regulations are enforced by various governmental authorities. If an airline fails to comply with these laws and regulations it may be subject to administrative and criminal sanctions, in addition to the obligation to remediate the environmental damage and/or to pay damages to third parties. In addition, Brazilian environmental law establishes a regime of strict civil liability (i.e., irrespective of fault) as well as joint civil liability, meaning that we may be held liable for violations by any third parties whom we hire, for example, to dispose of waste. Brazilian environmental law also provides for “piercing of the corporate veil,” which imposes liability on a corporation’s controlling shareholders in order to ensure sufficient financial resources to cover environmental damage. Accordingly, we may be directly liable for any violations caused by ALAB and TRIP.

We seek to comply with all environmental legislation and all requirements of public authorities in order to avoid liabilities and limit additional expenses.

 

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Environmental Licenses

Under Brazilian law, the authority to grant environmental licenses for facilities or activities within a state, among other activities, belongs to the state authorities, unless the environmental impact would extend beyond the state border, in which case the Brazilian federal government has jurisdiction. Municipal authorities have jurisdiction over the licensing of facilities or activities that have a local impact. Each state has the power to establish specific regulations regarding environmental licensing procedures, within the scope of general guidelines established by the Brazilian government.

Most of the requests for renewal of an environmental license must be filed at least 120 days prior to its expiry. Provided that this deadline is complied with, the license is automatically extended until the environmental authority issues its decision.

The constructing, implementation, operation, expansion or enlargement, without a license, of any facility or activity that causes significant environmental impact, or the expansion of an activity in violation of an existing license, subjects the violator to various penalties, including the requirement to shut down the facility or activity and fines ranging from R$500 to R$10,000,000. These penalties would therefore apply if we were to carry out any potentially polluting activity without a valid license or in violation of the license conditions.

We seek to require our suppliers to comply with several Environmental Management System procedures and use technical audits to enforce compliance. We exercise caution in environmental matters, and reserve the right to reject goods and services from companies that do not meet our environmental protection parameters unless confirmation of compliance is received.

Federal Technical Register

Federal Law 6938/1981 and IBAMA’s Instruction No. 06/2013 set forth that all legal entities that carry out potentially polluting activities must be register with the IBAMA’s Federal Technical Register, or CTF. This register is an instrument to promote the preservation of the environment.

Activities with a significant potential of pollutant and intense use of natural resources, such as the manufacture and assemble of aircrafts, besides being subject to the CTF, are also subject to the quarterly payment of the Environmental Control and Inspection Fee, or TCFA, to IBAMA.

The Federal Decree 6514/2008 subjects entities with no CTF register to fines that range from R$50.00 to R$9,000.00, depending on the size of the enterprise and the economic capability of the offender. The Failure to pay TCFA entails a fine of 20% (twenty percent) on the amount owed, as well as default interest of 1% (one percent) per month. Currently, all of our activities subject to registration with the IBAMA’s CTF are duly regular.

Gas Emissions

We are monitoring and analyzing developments regarding amendments to the Kyoto protocol and the emissions regulations in the United States and Europe. We may be required to purchase carbon credits for the operation of our business in future. Brazilian Federal Law 12187/2009 (National Policy on Climate Change) is still to be regulated by specific legislation concerning the establishment of the Brazilian Emissions Reduction Market (Mercado Brasileiro de Redução de Emissões), or MBRE, and the establishment of goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Waste

Brazilian law, and particularly the National Policy on Solid Waste of 2010, provides that the transportation, management and final disposal of waste matter may not cause damage to the environment or inconvenience to public health and welfare. Brazilian legislation regulates the segregation, collection, storage, transportation, treatment and final disposal of waste, and states that parties who outsource waste disposal to third party providers are jointly and severally liable with the service provider.

The administrative penalties applicable to the improper discharge of solid, liquid and gas waste, whether or not resulting in effective contamination, include, among others, embargo of the activity or civil work and fines up to R$50 million. The costs for the proper waste management will probably increase in the coming years, in view of the implementation of sectorial agreements and greater regulation.

 

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Proper transportation, treatment and final discharge of waste depend on the waste classification for disposal. The projects are subject to prior approval by the environmental authorities. Waste treatment activities are prone to licensing.

In the context of the shared responsibility (responsabilidade compartilhada), the National Solid Waste Policy provides that some industrial sectors shall implement a Reverse Logistics (Logística Reversa) system, defined as the actions and procedures to enable the collection and recovery of solid residues, for reusing in the manufacture cycles, as well as in other destinations. As stated in the applicable legislation, the Reverse Logistics systems may be implemented jointly or individually by companies.

The Reverse Logistics system shall envisage the take-back of products after the consumer’s use for their reuse in the manufacture cycle or for proper final destination. Such obligation is applicable to the Company as a consumer of lubricating oil, tires etc. The reverse logistics systems of these products are currently being implemented in Brazil. Each part of the chain has specific obligations with the goal of reducing the solid residues volume and mitigating adverse impacts on human health and on the environment.

Environmental Liability

The Brazilian Federal Constitution provides for three different types of environmental liabilities: (i) civil, (ii) administrative and (iii) criminal. These liabilities may be applied separately and cumulatively. Any individual or legal entity (public or private) that directly or indirectly causes, by action or omission, any damage to the environment may be held liable for such damage, as well as for any violation of environmental regulation.

Brazil’s National Environmental Policy provides for strict civil liability for damages caused to the environment, which means that we can be held liable for any damage irrespective of fault. To establish strict liability, one simply has to demonstrate a cause-effect relationship between the polluter’s activity and the resulting damage in order to trigger the obligation to redress the environmental damage.

Public Attorneys’ offices, foundations, state agencies, state-owned companies and environmental protection associations are empowered to file public civil actions seeking compensation for environmental damages. The National Environmental Policy establishes joint liability among all the parties involved in polluting activity and that benefit directly or indirectly from it. Accordingly, the affected party or any of the other parties entitled to sue may choose to seek damages against any single responsible party, and the defendant is entitled to seek right of recourse against all other parties involved in polluting activity.

According to prevailing legal opinion in Brazil, there is no statute of limitations for claims seeking compensation for environmental damages.

Brazilian Federal Decree 6.514/2008 sets forth the infractions and administrative sanctions regarding the environmental matters and the federal administrative procedure to investigate these infractions. Administrative sanctions include: (i) warnings; (ii) simple fines; (iii) daily fines; (iv) seizure of the animals, products and subproducts of fauna and flora; (v) product destruction; (vi) product sales and manufacturing suspension; (vii) closure of the plant or construction; (viii) construction demolition; (ix) full or partial suspension of the activities; and (ix) restriction of rights.

Criminal liability for environmental matters in Brazil extends to corporations as well as to individuals. If a corporation is found criminally liable for an environmental violation, its officers, directors, managers, agents or proxies may also be subject to criminal penalties if there is proof of their intent or fault in preventing the occurrence of the crime. The settlement of a civil or administrative lawsuit does not prevent criminal prosecution for the same violation. Freedom-restricting penalties (confinement or imprisonment) are reduced to right-restricting penalties, such as community service mandates. Criminal sanctions encompass imprisonment in the case of individuals, or dissolution or restriction of rights for legal entities. Fines may be replaced by an undertaking by the violator to take specific steps to redress the environmental damage, if approved by the appropriate environmental authority. Enforcement of fines may be suspended upon settlement with environmental authorities for damage redress.

Data Protection

The Brazilian General Data Protection Act (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados) was published in the Federal Official Gazette on August 15, 2018 and was amended by Provisional Measure MP 869, issued by the President of Brazil in December 2018. The LGPD will take effect in August 2020 (the original effective date was February 2020, but MP 869/2018 postponed it for 6 months).

 

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Before LGPD comes into force, Brazil lacks a data privacy specific regulation and a data protection authority. Privacy is generally protected through the Federal Constitution, the Brazilian Civil Code (Law 10406 of January 10, 2002), the Brazilian Consumer Protection Code (Law 8078 of September 11, 1990) and the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Law 12965 of April 23, 2014 and the Decree 8771 of May 11, 2016, also known as the Internet Law).

The LGPD brings about major changes in the conditions for personal data processing, with a set of rules to be observed in activities such as collection, processing, storage, use, transfer, sharing and erasure of information concerning identified or identifiable natural persons. The application of the LGPD will apply irrespective of industry or business when dealing with personal data.

MP 869/2018 created the Brazilian National Data Protection Authority, or the ANPD, which will have equivalent activities to the European data protection authorities, exercising the triple role of (i) investigation, being able to issue norms and procedures, deliberate on the interpretation of the Act and request information to controllers and processors; (ii) enforcement, in cases of noncompliance with the law, through an administrative process; and (iii) education, disseminating knowledge about the Act and security measures, stimulating standards for services and products that facilitate control of data subjects, and elaborating studies on national and international practices for the protection of personal data and privacy, amongst others.

The ANPD has been assured technical independence, although subordinated to the Presidency of the Republic.

Pending Legislation

The Brazilian Congress is currently discussing a draft bill that would replace the current Brazilian Aeronautical Code. This draft bill deals with matters related to civil aviation, including airport concessions, consumer protection, limitation of airlines’ civil liability, compulsory insurance, fines and an increase in the limit on foreign ownership in voting stock of Brazilian airlines from 20% to 49% (or even to 100%, as speculated from time to time).

The draft bill has been internally approved by the Brazilian House of Representatives on March 2019, but it still needs to be discussed and approved by the Brazilian Federal Senate. If approved by the Federal Senate without any relevant amendments to the approved wording submitted by the Brazilian House of Representatives, it will be sent for presidential approval. If the Brazilian civil aviation framework changes in the future, or if ANAC implements increased restrictions, our growth plans and our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Aircraft Repossession

On March 1, 2012, Brazil ratified the Cape Town Convention, which created a system of international registration of legal interests in aircraft and engines. This convention has been ratified and published by Presidential Decree 8008, dated May 15, 2013, and was regulated by ANAC through Resolution No. 309, of March 18, 2014.

The Cape Town Convention is intended to standardize transactions involving movable property. The treaty creates international standards for registration of ownership, security interests (liens), leases and conditional sales contracts, as well as various legal remedies for default in financing agreements, including repossession and provisions regarding how the insolvency laws of the signatory states will apply to registered aircraft and engines. The Convention provides specific remedies such as the International Deregistration Power of Attorney, which allows recovery of the aircraft in case of default and insolvency. The RAB has been appointed as the responsible authority regarding the international registry in Brazil.

Government Insurance

In response to substantial increases in insurance premiums to cover risks related to terrorist attacks following the events of September 11, 2001 in the United States, the Brazilian government enacted Law 10744 of 2003, authorizing the government to assume civil liability to third parties for any injury to goods or persons, whether or not passengers, caused by terrorist attacks or acts of war against Brazilian aircraft operated by Brazilian airlines in Brazil or abroad. This statutory coverage is limited to an amount of US$1 billion. In addition, under the abovementioned legislation, the Brazilian government may, at its sole discretion, suspend this assumption of liability at any time, provided that it gives seven days’ notice of the suspension. Brazil is currently the sole jurisdiction worldwide still providing such statutory coverage to its registered fleet.

We maintain all other mandatory insurance coverage for each of our aircraft and additional insurance coverage as required by lessors. See “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Insurance.”

 

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U.S. and International Regulation

Operational Regulation

The airline industry is heavily regulated by the U.S. government. Two of the primary regulatory authorities overseeing air transportation in the United States are the DOT and the FAA. The DOT has jurisdiction over economic issues affecting air transportation, such as unfair or deceptive competition, advertising, baggage liability and disabled passenger transportation. The DOT has authority to issue permits required for airlines to provide air transportation. We hold an open skies foreign air carrier DOT permit authorizing us to engage in scheduled air transportation of passengers, property and mail to and from certain destinations in the United States.

The FAA is responsible for regulating and overseeing matters relating to air carrier flight operations, including airline operating certificates, aircraft certification and maintenance and other matters affecting air safety. The FAA requires each commercial airline to obtain and hold an FAA air carrier certificate and to comply with Federal Aviation Regulations 129 and 145. This certificate, in combination with operations specifications issued to the airline by the FAA, authorizes the airline to operate at specific airports using aircraft approved by the FAA. As of December 31, 2017 ALAB has FAA operations specifications approved as Part 129 to use Airbus A330-200 in scheduled flights to the U.S. We have also obtained the necessary FAA authorization to fly to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. We hold all necessary operating and airworthiness authorizations, certificates and licenses and are operating in compliance with applicable DOT, FAA and applicable international regulations, interpretations and policies.

Customs and Border Protection

Our service to the U.S. is also subject to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP (a law enforcement agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), immigration and agriculture requirements and the requirements of equivalent foreign governmental agencies. Like other airlines flying international routes, from time to time we may be subject to civil fines and penalties imposed by CBP if un-manifested or illegal cargo, such as illegal narcotics, is found on our aircraft. These fines and penalties, which in the case of narcotics are based upon the retail value of the seizure, may be substantial. We have implemented a comprehensive security program at our airports to reduce the risk of illegal cargo being placed on our aircraft, and we seek to cooperate actively with CBP and other U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies in investigating incidents or attempts to introduce illegal cargo.

Security Regulation

The TSA was created in 2001 with the responsibility and authority to oversee the implementation, and ensure the adequacy, of security measures at airports and other transportation facilities in the United States. Since the creation of the TSA, airport security has seen significant changes including enhancement of flight deck security, the deployment of federal air marshals onboard flights, increased airport perimeter access security, increased airline crew security training, enhanced security screening of passengers, baggage, cargo and employees, training of security screening personnel, increased passenger data to CBP and background checks. Funding for passenger security is provided in part by a per enplanement ticket tax (passenger security fee) of US$2.50 per passenger flight segment, subject to a US$5 per one-way trip cap. The TSA was granted authority to impose additional fees on air carriers if necessary to cover additional federal aviation security costs. Pursuant to its authority, the TSA may revise the way it assesses this fee, which could result in increased costs for passengers and/or us. We cannot forecast what additional security and safety requirements may be imposed in the future in the United States or in the EU, or the costs or revenue impact that would be associated with complying with such requirements. The TSA also assess an Aviation Security Infrastructure Fee on each airline.

 

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C.

Organizational Structure

Corporate Organization

We operate as a holding company and own 100% of our two principal subsidiaries: (i) ALAB and (ii) TudoAzul S.A. The following organizational chart sets forth, in summary form, our material direct or indirect subsidiaries as of December 31, 2018:

 

LOGO

ALAB is our original operating subsidiary through which we operate all of our flight activities. ALAB wholly owns Azul Finance LLC and Azul Finance 2 LLC, subsidiaries incorporated in Delaware for the purpose of acquiring next-generation Airbus A320neos from Airbus and E-Jets from Embraer. ALAB also wholly owns Azul SOL LLC, a subsidiary incorporated in Delaware, through which ALAB holds the option to purchase six E-Jets under an operating lease structure, and Blue Sabia LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary incorporated in Delaware, which leases certain aircraft to Portugalia – Companhia Portuguesa de Transportes Aéreos, S.A., a subsidiary of TAP. In addition, ALAB wholly owns ATS Viagens e Turismo Ltda., a subsidiary organized in Brazil, which sells travel packages offered by our Azul Viagens business unit. ALAB is also the Managing Partner of Azul Investments LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in Delaware for the issuance of debt securities in the United States.

Canela Investments, a limited liability company incorporated in Delaware, is the parent company of our aircraft operating companies that finance aircraft in U.S. dollars.

We either acquire aircraft using financing obtained in the United States in U.S. dollars, or in Brazil, in reais, or lease them from third parties. Each aircraft that we purchase through financing in U.S. dollars is owned by a separate subsidiary of Canela Investments. Each subsidiary of Canela Investments owns one such aircraft and leases it to ALAB, whereas aircraft that we purchase through financing in reais are held directly by ALAB. Aircraft that we lease from third parties under operating leases are owned by our relevant counterparty and leased to ALAB.

As of December 31, 2018, our contractual fleet, which is the fleet that we contractually own or lease, totaled 143 aircraft, consisting of: (i) two aircraft owned by subsidiaries of Canela Investments, (ii) 18 aircraft owned directly by ALAB, and (iii) 123 aircraft leased from third parties. As part of our fleet optimization efforts, in 2016 and 2017, we leveraged our strategic partnerships by subleasing 15 aircraft to TAP for the remaining period under our lease agreements with third parties, see “Item 4.B. Business Overview—Strategic Partnerships, Alliances and Commercial Agreements—TAP.” As a result, as of December 31, 2018, our operating fleet, which is the fleet we operate, totaled 125 aircraft, consisting of 63 Embraer E-Jets, 33 ATR aircraft, 20 next-generation Airbus A320neos, seven Airbus A330s and two Boeing 737 freighter.

 

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D.

Property, Plant and Equipment

We lease all of our facilities at each of the airports we serve. Our leases for our terminal passenger service facilities, which include ticket counter and gate space, operations support area and baggage service offices, generally have terms ranging from one to three years and contain provisions for periodic adjustments of lease rates. We expect to either renew these leases or find alternative space that would permit us to continue providing our services. We also are responsible for maintenance, insurance and other facility-related expenses and services. We have also entered into use agreements at each of the airports we serve that provide for the non-exclusive use of runways, taxiways and other facilities. Landing fees under these agreements are based on the number of landings and weight of the aircraft.

Our primary corporate offices and headquarters are located in the city of Barueri, state of São Paulo, where we lease 8,178.33 square meters under two lease agreements that expire in February and December of 2022.

We also lease four hangars totaling 97,800 square-feet for our full capability maintenance center in Belo Horizonte, with expirations from 2020 to 2024. We also lease one hangar in Manaus totaling 14,854 square feet and one in Cuiabá totaling 13,745 square feet for E-Jets and ATR line maintenance with leases expiring in 2020 and 2024, respectively. Our training facility for pilot and cabin crew education, UniAzul, located at Viracopos airport has 71,000 square feet is under a lease agreement that expires in 2028. We also lease a 9,600 square-feet warehouse and office complex, located in Fort Lauderdale within the airport area, under a lease that expires in 2022.

Property and equipment are recorded at acquisition or construction cost (which include interest and other financial charges) and are depreciated to estimated residual values over their estimated useful lives using the straight-line method. Under International Accounting Standard, or IAS, 16 “Property, Plant and Equipment,” major engine overhauls are treated as a separate asset component with the cost capitalized and depreciated over the period to the next overhaul. In estimating the lives and expected residual values of our airframes and engines, we primarily have relied upon actual experience with the same or similar aircraft types and recommendations from third parties. Subsequent revisions to these estimates, which can be significant, could be caused by changes to our maintenance program, changes in utilization of the aircraft, governmental regulations related to aging aircraft.

We evaluate annually whether there is an indication that our property and equipment may be impaired. Factors that would indicate potential impairment may include, but are not limited to, significant decreases in the market value of long-lived assets, a significant change in the long-lived asset’s physical condition, and operating or cash flow losses associated with the use of long-lived assets. An impairment loss exists when the book value of an asset unit exceeds its recoverable amount, which is the higher of fair value less selling costs and value in use. The calculation of fair value less selling costs is based on information available of sales transactions regarding similar assets or market prices less additional costs for disposing of assets.

 

ITEM 4A.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 5.

OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

 

A.

Operating Results

You should read the following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this annual report, as well as the data set forth in “Item 3.A. Selected Financial Data.” The following discussion contains forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, estimates and beliefs. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this annual report particularly in “Item 3.D. Risk Factors.”

 

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Principal Factors Affecting Our Financial Condition and Results of Operations

We believe our operating and business performance is driven by various factors that affect the global and Brazilian economy, the Brazilian airline industry, trends affecting the broader Brazilian travel industry, and trends affecting the specific markets and customer base that we target. The following key factors may affect our future performance.

Brazilian Economic Environment

As most of our flight operations are within Brazil, our revenues and profitability are affected by conditions in the Brazilian economy. Our operations and the airline industry in general are particularly sensitive to changes in economic conditions. Unfavorable economic conditions, such as high unemployment rates and a constrained credit market, can reduce spending for both leisure and business travel. Unfavorable economic conditions can also impact our ability to raise fares to counteract increased fuel, labor, and other expenses, and generally increase our credit rank, particularly with respect to our trade receivables.

The following table shows data for real GDP, inflation and interest rates in Brazil, the U.S. dollar/real exchange rate and crude oil prices for and as of the periods indicated.

 

     As of and for the Years ended
December 31,
 
     2018     2017     2016  

Real growth (contraction) in gross domestic product

     1.1     1.0     (3.6 )% 

Inflation (IGP-M)(1)

     4.8     (0.5 %)      7.2

Inflation (IPCA)(2)

     3.8     2.9     6.3

Long-term interest rates – TJLP (average)(3)

     6.5     7.0     7.5

CDI Rate (average)(4)

     6.5     10.1     14.1

LIBOR(5)

     2.3     1.4     0.7

Period-end exchange rate—reais per US$ 1.00

     3.875       3.308       3.259  

Average exchange rate—reais per US$ 1.00(6)

     3.654       3.192       3.483  

Average depreciation of the real vs. US$

     14.8     (8.5 %)      (4.3 )% 

WTI crude price (average US$ per barrel during period)

     64.89       50.86       43.47  

Unemployment rate(7)

     12.4     12.7     11.5

 

Source: FGV, IBGE, Central Bank, Bloomberg and Energy information administration

(1)

Inflation (IGP-M) is the general market price index measured by the FGV.

(2)

Inflation (IPCA) is a broad consumer price index measured by the IBGE.

(3)

TJLP is the Brazilian long-term interest rate (average of monthly rates for the period).

(4)

The CDI Rate is an average of inter-bank overnight rates in Brazil (daily average for the period).

(5)

Average US dollar three-month LIBOR for three months.

(6)

Average of the exchange rate on each business day of the year.

(7)

Average unemployment rate for year as measured by IBGE.

We believe Brazil continues to show significant growth potential as it recovers from an economic recession, which started in 2014 and ended in 2017. According to Central Bank forecast released on March 15, 2019, the Brazilian GDP is expected to grow 2.0% in 2019 and 2.8% in 2020, compared to 1.1% in 2018. In 2018, Jair Bolsonaro, a former member of the lower house of the National Congress of Brazil (Câmara dos Deputados) and retired military officer, was elected President of Brazil. Although he has plans to implement several reforms in the country, including a pension reform, it is still uncertain if the new administration will be able to win the support in the National Congress required to pass new bills. We believe that our business model will allow us to benefit from Brazil’s economic growth potential, particularly among the middle class and in small- and medium-sized cities in the interior of the country as well as in the economic strongholds of the São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro areas.

In terms of passenger demand as measured by RPKs, the Brazilian domestic aviation market grew 4.4% for the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to growth of 3.2% in 2017, and a contraction of 5.7% in 2016, according to ANAC.

 

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Net Operating Loss Carryforwards

We and our subsidiaries had net operating loss carryforwards of R$1,829.2 million as of December 31, 2018, represented by income tax losses and negative basis of social contribution. Certain of these net operating losses have been recorded at dormant subsidiaries and any future usage is dependent on transferring operating activities to such subsidiaries. Under Brazilian tax laws, we may only use our net operating losses to offset taxes payable up to 30% of the taxable income for each year. See “Item 5.A. Operating Results—Principal Components of Our Results of Operations—Taxes” and “Item 5.A. Operating Results—Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates—Deferred Taxes.”

Impact of Airline Industry Competition

The airline industry is highly competitive. The principal competitive factors in the airline industry are fare pricing, flight schedules, flight times, aircraft type, passenger amenities, number of routes served from a city, customer service, safety record and reputation, brand recognition, code-sharing relationships, and loyalty programs and redemption opportunities. Price competition occurs on a market-by-market, route-by-route and flight schedule basis through price discounts, changes in pricing structures, fare matching, target promotions and loyalty program initiatives.

As of December 31, 2018, 29% and 19% of our domestic network overlapped with that of Gol and LATAM, respectively, while Gol’s and LATAM’s networks had an overlap of 88% with each other. At Viracopos airport, our primary hub, only 2 out of 51 domestic destinations faced direct competition from Gol or LATAM as of December 31, 2018.

In addition, we were the sole airline on 71% of our routes and 41 of the destinations we served, and the market leader in 71 cities in terms of departure as of December 31, 2018. By comparison, Gol and LATAM were market leaders in only 16 and 5 cities, respectively, as of December 31, 2018.

Effects of Aviation Fuel Costs

Aviation fuel costs have been subject to wide fluctuations in recent years. Fuel availability and pricing are also subject to refining capacity, periods of market surplus and shortage, and demand for heating oil, gasoline and other petroleum products, as well as meteorological, economic and political factors and events occurring throughout the world, which we can neither control nor accurately predict. We attempt to mitigate fuel price volatility through commodity forward agreements with banks or a fixed price agreement with BR Distribuidora. See “Item 5.A. Operating Results —Principal Components of Our Results of Operations—Operating Expenses.” Our fuel hedging practices are dependent upon many factors, including our assessment of market conditions for fuel, the pricing of hedges and other derivative products in the market and applicable regulatory policies. We had hedged approximately 30% of our forecasted next twelve-month fuel consumption as of December 31, 2018. Petrobras, the leading player in the Brazilian oil industry and the parent company of BR Distribuidora, has a strategy to equalize aviation fuel prices to international fuel prices every month. There are also regional differences based on logistical issues and different regional taxes.

Seasonality

Our operating revenue and results of operations are substantially dependent on overall passenger traffic volume, which is subject to seasonal and other changes in traffic patterns. Therefore, our operating revenue and results of operations for any interim period are not necessarily indicative of those for the entire year. We generally expect demand to be greater in the first, third and fourth quarters of each calendar year compared to the second quarter of each year. This demand increase occurs due to an increase in business travel during the second half of the year, as well as the Christmas season, Carnival and the Brazilian school summer vacation. Although business travel can be cyclical depending on the general state of the economy, it tends to be less seasonal than leisure travel, which peaks during vacation season and around certain holidays in Brazil.

The table below shows our average fare in reais for the periods indicated, reflecting our total passenger revenue divided by passenger flight segments for such periods:

 

     Average Fare (R$)  

Year Ended December 31,

   First
Quarter
     Second
Quarter
     Third
Quarter
     Fourth
Quarter
 

2014

     253.4        251.4        254.4        246.6  

2015

     250.8        238.9        258.6        274.3  

2016

     280.7        259.3        286.3        294.1  

2017

     283.7        279.8        308.1        344.8  

2018

     376.1        346.1        379.9        395.7  

 

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Effects of Exchange Rates, Interest Rates and Inflation

Our results of operations are affected by currency fluctuations. For the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, 79.1%, 83.4%, and 89.8%, respectively, of our revenue was domestic and therefore denominated in reais while 55.3%, 52.7%, and 53.5%, respectively, of our operating expenses were either payable in or affected by the U.S. dollar, such as aviation fuel, aircraft lease payments, certain flight hour maintenance contract payments and aircraft insurance. We also have certain aircraft debt denominated in U.S. dollars, see “Item 5.B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Loans and Financings.” We use short-term arrangement to hedge against exchange rate exposure related to our aircraft lease and other rent payment obligations.

We also have assets denominated in foreign currency such as security deposits, maintenance reserves, cash and equivalents, and the TAP bond, providing us with a natural hedge against our dollar denominated liabilities. In addition, our aircraft, engines, and spare parts are commercialized in U.S. dollars.

Inflation also had, and may continue to have, effects on our financial condition and results of operations. For the year ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, approximately, 26.6%, 29.8%, and 28.8%, respectively, of our operating expenses, including salaries, catering and ground handling expenses were impacted by changes in inflation.

The Central Bank determines the base interest rate in order to manage inflation. Variations in interest rate affect primarily our long-term obligations subject to variable interest rates, including our loans and financing. As of December 31, 2018, 2017, and 2016, we had R$3,706.0 million, R$3,489.9 million, and R$4,034.5 million, respectively, in current and noncurrent loans and financing of which (i) 66.0%, 56.4%, and 37.6%, respectively, was indexed to the CDI Rate, or overnight interbank/branch benchmark interest rate, and (ii) 25.8%, 32.7% and 52.6%, respectively, was indexed to LIBOR. In addition, interest rates also affect our financial income to the extent that we have investments indexed to the CDI Rate. The Central Bank has changed the base interest rate several times over the past years in order to keep inflation within its targets.

New IFRS Standards That May Affect Our Future Results of Operations

We have adopted IFRS 9 – Financial Instruments, and IFRS 15 – Revenue from Contracts with Customers as of January 1, 2018.

IFRS 15 became effective January 1, 2018 and impacted the classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary items such as bags, upgrades, itinerary changes and other air travel-related fees, since they are deemed part of the single performance obligation of providing passenger transportation. These ancillary items are now recognized in passenger revenue while non-passenger related items including cargo, travel packages, and revenue from aircraft subleases continue to be recognized under other revenue. The pro-forma impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements. For more information about these changes, see “Note 3.20. New and amended standards and interpretations” to our audited consolidated financial statements.

In July 2014, the IASB issued the final version of IFRS 9 – Financial Instruments, which superseded IAS 39 – Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement. IFRS 9 is applicable for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018. Except for hedge accounting, retrospective application is required, but comparative information is not required. The Company adopted the new standard on January 1, 2018. The Company has opted not to present comparative information showing retroactively the results from the adoption of IFRS 9. For more information see note 3.20 of our audited consolidated financial statements.

IFRS 16 was issued in January 2016 and replaces IAS 17 – Leases, IFRIC 4 – Determining whether an Agreement Contains a Lease, SIC-15 – Operating leases-Incentives and SIC-27 – Evaluating the Substance of Transactions in the Legal Form of a Lease. IFRS 16 establishes the principles for the recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of leases and requires lessees to account for all leases under a single model in the balance sheet, similar to accounting for finance leases under IAS 17. Under IFRS 16, Azul will capitalize the right of use of all aircraft and other assets such as properties, vehicles and equipment currently held under operating leases. Azul will recognize a right-of-use asset representing its right to use the underlying asset and a corresponding lease liability that is initially measured at the present value of the future lease payments representing its obligation to make lease payments. Operating lease expenses will be replaced by a depreciation expense on right-of-use assets recognized and an interest expense as the interest rate implicit in Azul’s lease liabilities. When the interest rate implicit in the lease cannot be readily determined, Azul’s incremental borrowing rate will be used as an alternative. IFRS 16 will be effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2019. For more information on the impact of the adoption of IFRS 16 see note 3.21 of our audited consolidated financial statements.

 

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Principal Components of Our Results of Operations

Operating Revenue

Our operating revenue is primarily derived from transporting customers in our aircraft. For the year ended December 31, 2018, 94.7% of our operating revenue was derived from passenger revenue, and 5.3% was derived from other revenue. In January 2018, with the adoption of the IFRS 15, the classification and timing of recognition of certain ancillary items, such as bags, upgrades, itinerary changes and other air travel-related fees changed, which are now recognized under passenger revenue while non-passenger related items, including cargo, travel packages and revenue from aircraft subleases continue to be recognized under other revenue. The Company has opted not to present comparative information showing retroactively the results from the adoption of IFRS 15. The pro-forma impact of IFRS 15 on our revenue results for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 is presented in “Note 3.17. Revenue from contracts with customers” to our audited consolidated financial statements. For the year ended December 31, 2017, 86.0% of our operating revenue was derived from passenger revenue, and 14.0% was derived from ancillary revenue.

For the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, 79.1% and 83.4% respectively of our operating revenue was denominated in reais. Passenger revenue is recognized either upon departure of the scheduled flight or when a purchased ticket expires unused, including revenue related to the redemption of TudoAzul points for Azul flights. Cargo revenue is recognized when transportation is provided.

Passenger revenue depends on our capacity, load factor and yield. Capacity is measured in terms of ASKs, which represents the number of seats we make available on our aircraft multiplied by the number of kilometers these seats are flown. Load factor, or the percentage of our capacity that is actually used by paying customers, is calculated by dividing RPKs, which represents the number of kilometers flown by revenue passengers, by ASKs. Yield is the average amount that one passenger pays to fly one kilometer. We use RASK, or revenue divided by ASKs, and PRASK, or passenger revenue divided by ASKs, as our key performance indicators, because we believe they enable us to evaluate the balance between load factor and yield. Since our first year of operations, we have maintained a significant RASK and PRASK premium compared to our competitors given our higher load factors and yields. We expect that our strategy will enable us to maintain that premium in the future.

Our revenues are net of certain taxes, including state-value added tax, the Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services (Imposto sobre Circulação de Mercadorias e Serviços), or ICMS; federal social contribution taxes, including the Social Integration Program (Programa de Integração Social), or PIS; social security contributions, or INSS; and the Social Contribution to Social Security Financing (Contribuição Social para o Financiamento da Seguridade Social), or COFINS. ICMS does not apply to passenger revenue. The average rate of ICMS on cargo revenues varies by state and ranges from 4% to 19%. In respect of passenger transportation revenues, the applicable rates of PIS and COFINS are 0.65% and 3%, respectively, due to a specific rule which enforces the use of the cumulative system of PIS and COFINS on these revenues. The remaining revenue related to air transportation activity is levied at rates of 1.65% and 7.60%, respectively. The Municipal Tax on Services (Imposto Sobre Serviços), or ISS, is a municipal tax assessed at rates varying from 2% to 5% of our service rendered revenues. On January 1, 2013, the federal government of Brazil, through provisional measure Provisional Measure MP 540/12, later converted into Law 12546/2011, determined that the INSS contribution would be substituted by a Provisional Contribution on Gross Revenues, or CPRB, calculated at a monthly rate varying from 1% to 1.5% of revenue. During this period, this contribution was presented as part of deduction of revenue. The CPRB ended on December 31, 2018, and the INSS will be calculated based on the salary of the employees and presented in a general expense.

The air transportation business is volatile and highly affected by economic cycles and trends. Fluctuations in aviation fuel prices, customer discretionary spending, fare initiatives, labor actions, weather and other factors have resulted in significant fluctuations in revenues and results of operations in the past.

ANAC, the Brazilian civil aviation agency, may adopt regulations that influence our ability to generate revenue as it is responsible for approving the concession of landing rights slots, entry of new companies, launch of new routes, increases in route frequencies and lease or acquisition of new aircraft. Our ability to grow and to increase our revenues is dependent on approvals for new routes, increased frequencies and additional aircraft by ANAC.

Operating Expenses

We are committed to maintaining a low-cost operating structure, and we seek to keep our expenses low by operating a young and efficient fleet with a single-class of service on domestic routes, maintaining high employee productivity, investing significantly in technology, utilizing our fleet efficiently and deploying low-cost distribution processes.

 

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Our largest operating expense is aviation fuel, which represented 30.6% of our total operating expenses in 2018, 26.7% in 2017 and 24.7% for 2016. Aircraft fuel prices in Brazil are much higher than in the United States, as the Brazilian infrastructure needed to produce, transport and store fuel is expensive and aviation fuel prices are controlled by a concentrated number of suppliers. Our aviation fuel expenses are variable and fluctuate based on global oil prices. Since global prices are denominated in U.S. dollars, our aviation fuel costs are also subject to exchange rate fluctuations between the real and U.S. dollar. During the year ended December 31, 2018, the fuel price per liter increased 30.1%, from R$1.97 per barrel as of December 31, 2017 to R$2.56 per barrel as of December 31, 2017. In 2017, the fuel price per liter increased 11.0% from R$1.77 per barrel as of December 31, 2016 to R$1.97 per barrel as of December 31, 2017. In 2016, the fuel price per liter decreased 16.3%, from R$2.11 per barrel as of December 31, 2015 to R$1.77 per barrel as of December 31, 2016.

We attempt to mitigate fuel price volatility related to global changes in fuel prices through commodity forward agreements with banks and also have the option to enter into hedge agreements with Petrobras, whose subsidiary BR Distribuidora is a key supplier of fuel for us. The Petrobras hedging product available to us enables us to lock in the cost of the jet fuel we will consume in the future, thereby offering a more tailored hedge than WTI or heating oil futures, which are not perfectly correlated to jet fuel. In addition, Petrobras offers us the option to lock the jet fuel price in reais, thereby hedging our exposure not only to fuel prices, but also to the real/U.S. dollar exchange rates.

In addition, local taxes applicable to the sale of jet fuel are high, ranging from 3.0% to 25.0%. Different states in Brazil apply different rates of value-added tax to fuel (which is not passed on to end consumers for passenger services), requiring us to continually adjust our fuel prices to optimize fuel uplift. Several states in Brazil offer a value-added fuel tax relief or subsidy to airlines that provide better connectivity between cities within the state and other domestic or international destinations. Given the size of our network and diversified fleet, we believe we pay lower value-added fuel tax rates compared to our main competitors

Salaries, wages and benefits paid to our crewmembers, include, among others, health care, dental care, child care reimbursement, life insurance, funeral assistance, psychosocial assistance (referred to as the “Anjo Azul” program), school aid (granted to expatriate executive officers only), housing allowance (granted to expatriate executive officers only), bonuses, pension plans, transportation tickets, food allowances and meal vouchers. We believe that we have a cost advantage compared to industry peers in salaries, wages and benefits expenses due to high employee productivity measured by the average number of employees per aircraft. While we had 94 FTEs per aircraft as of December 31, 2018, Gol had 126 as of the same date. We also benefit from generally lower labor costs in Brazil, when compared to other countries, which is somewhat offset by lower productivity due to government requirements over employee labor conditions and taxes on payroll.

Our aircraft and other rent expenses consist of monthly operating lease rents for aircraft, spare engines, flight simulators and other equipment under the terms of the related operating leases recognized on a straight-line basis. We use short-term arrangements to hedge against exchange rate exposure related to our aircraft lease and other rent payment obligations.

Landing fees include airport charges for each landing and aircraft parking, connecting fees as well as aeronautical and navigation fees. Most of these fees vary based on our level of operations and the rates are set by INFRAERO, DECEA and private airports.

Traffic and customer servicing includes the cost of airport facilities, ground handling expenses, customer bus service and inflight services and supplies. We provide complimentary bus services between a limited number of locations and certain strategic airports, such as transportation from the city of São Paulo to Viracopos airport, and we believe that the additional customers we attract by offering this service more than offset its cost.

Our sales and marketing expenses include commissions paid to travel and cargo agents, fees paid to credit card companies and advertising associated with the sale of our tickets and other products and services. We believe that our distribution costs are lower than those of our competitors because a higher proportion of our customers purchase tickets directly through our website instead of through traditional distribution channels, such as ticket offices, and we have comparatively fewer sales made through higher cost global distribution systems. In 2018 we generated 85% of our passenger revenue through our website, including direct connect bookings with travel agencies compared to 85% in 2017 and 87% in 2016. We employ low-cost, innovative marketing techniques, focusing on social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) and generating word of mouth recognition, including visibly branded complimentary bus service and guerrilla marketing campaigns to enhance brand recognition and provide promotions directed at our customers. We believe that we have an advantage compared to industry peers in sales and marketing expenses and expect this advantage will remain in the future.

 

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Our maintenance, materials and repair expenses consist of line and scheduled heavy maintenance of our aircraft and engines. Since the average age of our operating fleet was 5.9 years as of December 31, 2018, 5.6 years as of December 31, 2017 and 4.8 years as of December 31, 2016, and most of the parts on our aircraft are under four-year warranties, our aircraft have required a relatively low level of maintenance. As our aircraft age, these costs will increase.

Heavy maintenance on aircraft under operating leases is expensed as incurred. For owned aircraft, we employ the deferral method which results in the capitalization of engine shop visits for heavy maintenance. Under this method, the cost of major maintenance is capitalized and amortized as a component of depreciation and amortization expense until the next major maintenance event. The next major maintenance event is estimated based on the average removal times suggested by the manufacturer, and may change based on changes in aircraft utilization and changes in suggested manufacturer maintenance intervals. In addition, these assumptions can be affected by unplanned incidents that could damage a major component to a level that would require a major maintenance event prior to a scheduled maintenance event.

Depreciation and amortization expen