Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (AD, São Paulo Viracopos) Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Abhi Shah, says the Brazilian carrier will look at securing a joint-venture with partner United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) following the Brazilian Senate's recent passing of the US-Brazil Open Skies agreement.

The accession comes almost seven years after the agreement was signed by the Brazilian and US governments. The bill was already approved by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies on December 19, 2017.

Speaking during an earnings call last week, Shah said there have already been early talks between the sides over the JV. However, with the ratification of the Open Skies agreement, Azul and United will now look to put together a commercial agreement that can then be submitted to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for consideration.

"Looking at the US-Brazil [market], Azul is to the point where we are about 4-5 daily widebodies to the US; United is also about five widebodies US-Brazil," he said. "The great thing about this partnership with United is that we have no overlap. A lot of synergies, lots of ways that we can work together; our networks are very complimentary."

According to the ch-aviation schedules module, Azul's US services focus on the Floridian airports of Orlando International and Fort Lauderdale International which it connects with the Brazilian airports of Belém International (Fort Lauderdale), Belo Horizonte Tancredo Neves (Orlando), São Paulo Viracopos (both), and Recife (both). For its part, United focusses on connecting each of Chicago O'Hare, Houston Intercontinental, New York Newark, and Washington Dulles with São Paulo Guarulhos as well as Houston with Rio de Janeiro International.

In the US-Brazil market, United and Azul have a combined 25.67% of the weekly seating market (United with 8,295 seats/week and Azul with 7,200 seats/week). By comparison, American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) is the largest operator in the market with 19,206 seats/week (31.81%) followed by LATAM Airlines Brasil (JJ, São Paulo Congonhas) with 13,569 seats/week and Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) with 14.2% or 8,573 seats/week.

LATAM Airlines Group has also hailed the Open Skies agreement highlighting that its implementation is a prerequisite for the DOT to approve the proposed Joint Business Agreement (JBA) between the South American carrier conglomerate and American Airlines, which was announced in January 2016 and approved by the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) in October 2017. Once it has been approved, LATAM says the JBA will provide benefits to customers, such as a larger flight network, access to more destinations and improvements in connectivity.