Azul Linhas Aéreas

Sao Paulo-based Azul could begin international service to Punta del Este next year.

Clean, modern aircraft, cheap flights, the most user-friendly airline website, extra legroom, great in-flight entertainment and delicious snacks on board. We must be talking about JetBlue, right? Well, sort of.

Brazil-based Azul Airlines is the JetBlue of South America thanks in large part to visionary CEO David Neeleman, the Brazilian-born American who founded JetBlue in 1999, left the company in 2008 and officially launched Azul Linhas Aereas in Brazil.

Now celebrating its third year of operations, Azul was the first airline in the world to board more than 2 million passengers during its first full year of service. With a fleet of modern ATR and Embraer aircraft, a busy hub at Sao Paulo’s Viracopos International Airport and flights to over 40 Brazilian cities, Azul is now setting its sights on popular destinations in Argentina and Uruguay in 2012. With flights beginning at the peak of the 2012/13 Summer Season, the first planned destination will be (where else?) Punta del Este.

According to Globo.com, other destinations on Azul’s international radar include Montevideo, Cordoba, Mendoza, Bariloche and Santiago de Chile. While Viracopos will remain the primary hub (Azul accounts for 80% of all VCP traffic), a company spokesman says Porto Alegre may emerge as Azul’s hub for Southern Cone flights. (Full Story in Portuguese)

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