Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (AD, Sao Paulo Viracopos) may acquire Passaredo Linhas Aéreas (2Z, Ribeirão Preto) as the jostling over slots at congested São Paulo Congonhas intensifies, Bradesco BBI, the investment wing of Banco Bradesco, suggested in a report published on July 15. Along with Passaredo's fleet of six ATR72-500s, Azul could obtain up to ten slots at Congonhas, Brazil’s most important domestic airport.

Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) will, according to Bradesco BBI, consider airlines with up to 39 slots as “new entrants”, distributing Avianca Brasil’s slots between them due to legal uncertainty over the validity of an auction on July 10 that sold the majority of the slots to GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes and LATAM Airlines Brasil.

If this happens, Azul would benefit as it has 26 slots at the airport, potentially doubling its operations at Congonhas. Other “new entrants” in Congonhas that have no slots at all there include Passaredo, which primarily focuses on the southern, southeastern, midwestern, northern, and northeastern regions of Brazil.

Bradesco thinks that Passaredo could win ten slots at the airport, which would heighten Azul's interest in a takeover.

Under this scenario, GOL and LATAM would still control almost 90% of the airport's movements, but Azul would raise its participation to 11%. The Bradesco BBI report valued Passaredo at around USD93 million despite its debts and ongoing financial issues.

In related news, Passaredo has revealed plans to expand its operations in Brazil's eastern state of Bahia in the next twelve months, allowing the state capital Salvador to be connected with cities in other states, such as Petrolina and Aracaju to the north, the site Aeroflap has reported. The carrier will return to Barreiras with a direct link to Brasilia, and the cities of Teixeira de Freitas and Ilheus will gain routes to Salvador.

Passaredo also announced the installation of a new MRO centre for the maintenance of its aircraft in Salvador. David Faria, the carrier's director of operational safety, said that "the incentive programme created by the government of Bahia is an essential factor so that Passaredo can focus its expansion in the state and efficiently serve regional destinations."