NEW YORK, July 20, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Brazilian carrier Azul Linhas Aéreas today signed a contract with ATR for the purchase of 40 ATR 72-600s; 20 on firm order and 20 options. This agreement, signed and announced at London's Farnborough Air Show, makes Azul the first airline in Latin America to place an order for the ATR -600 series aircraft. The deal is worth $850 million, including the options, and deliveries of the new aircraft will commence in late 2011.

The new ATR 72-600 fleet, in a 70-seat configuration, will enable Azul to continue expansion of its domestic regional network as it adds smaller regional routes. Azul currently serves 21 destinations in Brazil with a mix of EMBRAER 190 and E-195 aircraft (with 106 and 118 seats each, respectively).

Azul also announced this week that the airline has purchased an additional five EMBRAER 195 jets, valued at $211 million, to be delivered this year. By December, Azul will operate a fleet of 26 EMBRAER jets.

Including the 36 aircraft ordered in March, 2008 (five E-190s and 31 E-195s), Azul now has a total of 41 firm orders, 20 options, and purchase rights for a further 20 EMBRAER aircraft. Together, with additional leased aircraft, Azul's EMBRAER fleet plan comprises 86 jets.

"We are extremely pleased to include Azul as a new member of the ATR family of operators," said Filippo Bagnato, Chief Executive Officer of ATR. "Azul gives ATR the opportunity to introduce the newest ATR '-600 series' into Brazil and Latin America, a country and a region with very high growth potential for regional transportation.  Azul is a dynamic, rapidly-growing airline, and we are pleased to be part of their expansion and success."

"This is a great moment for all of us at Azul," said David Neeleman, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Azul. "Our commitment for this brand new fleet of ATR 72-600 will enable Azul to serve even more cities in the vast Brazilian territory, linking smaller communities with major cities with seamless connectivity between our jets and the new ATRs."

The new ATR 72-600 aircraft feature new technological enhancements, including a new avionics suite, redesigned cabin interiors, new PW 127Ms as standard engines, and up to additional 500 Kg on MTOW (Maximum Take-off weight) and MZFW (Maximum Zero Fuel Weight). These newest members of the ATR family of aircraft feature the lowest fuel consumption per passenger and CO2 emissions, thus consolidating ATR as the "Green Player" of the regional aviation.

The new ATR '-600 series' cabin, named Armonia, features new wider and lightweight seats, LED lightening and more cabin storage capacity.

ATR is well established in Brazil, where 37 of its aircraft are currently operated by 3 carriers. Today, ATR has 25 carriers operating 106 aircraft in Latin America.

Azul took delivery of its first Embraer aircraft in December 2008. It began operations a few days later, out of Viracopos Airport (VCP), in the city of Campinas, outstate São Paulo, to Porto Alegre and Salvador. The airline currently serves 21 cities in Brazil and continues to expand the number of destinations. It has carried more than three million passengers in 18 months of operation. With a range of 2,300 nautical miles (4,260 kilometers), the jet is able to fly nonstop on any route between Brazil's capital cities.

About Azul

Azul started operations in December 2008, first connecting the Brazilian cities of Campinas to Porto Alegre and Campinas to Salvador, with daily nonstop flights.  It now connects  21 of the largest cities in the country: Campinas, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Maringá, Navegantes, Florianópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Campo Grande, Vitória, Salvador, Recife, Maceió, Fortaleza, Natal, Manaus, Goiânia, Porto Seguro, São Paulo, Cuiabá and, in August, Brasília.   Azul also offers bus lines to other key points, taking its number of cities served to 25.  Its fleet is the youngest in the country, comprising 10 Embraer 190 and 8 Embraer 195 aircraft.

In 2010, Azul expects to carry 4 million passengers, add new destinations, and connect cities already served with nonstop flights. For more information, visit www.voeazul.com.br.

About ATR

Formed in 1981, ATR has grown to become the world's leading manufacturer of advanced 50 to 74 seat regional turboprop aircraft.

ATR is a joint venture and equal partnership between major European aerospace companies Alenia Aeronautica (a Finmeccanica company) and EADS. ATR's headquarters are in Toulouse, southern France. In 2009 the company generated a record turnover of US$1.4 billion (€1.1 billion).

ATR has sold more than 1,000 ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft, which are used by over 150 operators in 80 countries. These have accumulated a total of around 18 million cycles. ATR is certified to ISO 14001, the worldwide standard for environmental management and sustainability. www.atraircraft.com

About the EMBRAER 170/190 E-Jets family

The EMBRAER 170/190 family of E-Jets consists of four commercial jets with 70 to 122 seats, featuring advanced engineering design, efficient performance, outstanding operating economics, low emission levels and a spacious cabin without middle seats.

The E-Jets have a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.82, can fly at 41,000 feet (12,497 meters) and have ranges of up to 2,400 nautical miles (4,448 km). The high degree of commonality among the four aircraft – EMBRAER 170, EMBRAER 175, EMBRAER 190 and EMBRAER 195 – results in exceptional savings for carriers, in terms of crew training and cost of spare parts and maintenance. Another key feature of the E-Jets is the state-of-the-art, fly-by-wire technology, which increases operating safety, while reducing both pilot workload and fuel consumption.

The double-bubble fuselage design provides superior comfort and includes two main passenger entrances and two service doors, thus minimizing aircraft turn-around time. The E-Jets offer much more space for passengers, in a single or dual-class layout, than other aircraft with similar seating capacities. For more details, visit www.EmbraerCommercialJets.com.

The E-Jets have achieved outstanding success, with nearly 900 firm orders logged and over 650 jets in operation, worldwide. They have accumulated more than 3.7 million flight hours and transported 200 million passengers. This proven family is helping airlines to rightsize low load factor narrowbody routes, replace older, inefficient aircraft, and develop new markets with lower operating costs, greater efficiency, and outstanding passenger comfort.

To better understand the benefits of these aircraft, when substituting older jets, visit www.EforEfficiency.com.

Azul Airlines
Media Contact:
Gareth Edmondson-Jones
917 399-9355
GEJink@gmail.com