GOL cuts 18 routes; but more US routes possible via Santo Domingo hub

Route dropping news - GOL

Own gol: anna.aero does not support a World Cup boycott – in fact we are big supporters of (well-managed) grand events which bring huge benefits to aviation and whole economies. The 18-route droppings we have identified at GOL began long before the recent riots and, while these too will impact air travel, we think the cuts are more symptomatic of enthusiastic over-expansion in Brazil’s over-heating economy.

Our recent analysis of the Brazilian aviation market revealed that GOL’s share of the domestic market as measured by RPKs (Revenue Passenger Kilometres) has been holding steady at around 35% for the last 18 months. This does not include the market share of WebJet, which GOL acquired in August 2011, but which ceased its own operations on 23 November 2012, as part of GOL’s plans to reduce domestic capacity. Domestic demand in Brazil has been stable, at best, in the first half of 2013, and GOL has cut capacity, measured by ASKs (Available Seat Kilometres), by 18% in January, 19% in February, 10% in March, 7% in April, 6% in May, and 4% in June.

Conversely, GOL’s international capacity (ASKs) rose by 34% in January, 30% in February, 38% in March, 31% in April, 39% in May and 32% in June. Network wide, in the first half of 2013, GOL’s ASKs are down 1.3%, RPKs are down 1.8% resulting in a load factor drop of 0.4 percentage points to 70.5%. However, of more significance to the airline, is a double-digit increase in PRASK (Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Kilometre) which is helping the airline to recover from a financially disappointing 2012, and could see the airline return to profitability in 2013.

Almost 40 million passengers in 2012

GOL’s consistent growth has been hugely impressive. Since launching flights in January 2001, the airline has transported more than 250 million passengers, and last year carried more than 39 million passengers at a load factor of just over 70%. The acquisition of the “new” Varig in 2007, boosted demand that year, but also resulted in the average load factor falling.

GOL's growth 2001-2012 Annual passengers (millions) and load factor

Source: GOL

18 routes dropped since last summer

As part of the airline’s plan to return to profitability, a number of domestic (and international) routes have been withdrawn in the last 12 months. Our analysis of Innovata / Diio Mi data indicates that 11 domestic and seven international routes are no longer part of the airline’s route portfolio, compared with the same time last year. As a result of these network changes Panama City and Santiago de Chile are no longer served at all by GOL.

Route Date last operated WF* Route type Sector length
Porto Alegre (POA) – Santiago de Chile (SCL) 14 Aug 12 7 International 1,894 km
Asuncion (ASU) – Buenos Aires (EZE) 14 Aug 12 7 International 1,067 km
Curitiba (CWB) – Asuncion (ASU) 14 Aug 12 7 International 840 km
Campo Grande (CGR) – Santa Cruz (VVI) 31 Aug 12 7 International 943 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Panama City (PTY) 01 Oct 12 7 International 5,076 km
Buenos Aires (EZE) – Santiago de Chile (SCL) 01 Oct 12 7 International 1,141 km
Porto Alegre (POA) – Cordoba (COR) 27 Oct 12 5 International 1,257 km
Brasilia (BSB) – Florianopolis (FLN) 21 Feb 13 3 Domestic 1,308 km
Rio de Janeiro (SDU) – Navegantes (NVT) 21 Feb 13 7 Domestic 708 km
Rio de Janeiro (SDU) – Goiania (GYN) 22 Feb 13 6 Domestic 940 km
Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – Goiania (GYN) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 925 km
Curitiba (CWB) – Campo Grande (CGR) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 795 km
Salvador (SSA) – Joao Pessoa (JPA) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 739 km
Rio de Janeiro (SDU) – Curitiba (CWB) 22 Feb 13 22 Domestic 676 km
Curitiba (CWB) – Caxias do Sul (CXJ) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 449 km
Fortaleza (FOR) – Juazeiro do Norte (JDO) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 388 km
Sao Luiz (SLZ) – Teresina (THE) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 317 km
Natal (NAT) – Recife (REC) 22 Feb 13 7 Domestic 248 km
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for July 2013 and July 2012
* Weekly frequency in July 2012
NB: Sorted by date last operated, and then on sector length

Sao Paulo Guarulhos now easily GOL’s busiest base of operations

Looking at the combined schedules of GOL and Webjet for July 2012 and July 2013, reveals that the airline is planning to offer around 8% fewer flights, and around 6% less capacity. The difference between these two figures can be explained by GOL’s removal of Webjet’s smaller 737-300s from service at the end of last year. In terms of ASKs, the difference was down to just over 3%, thanks to the increase in average sector length.

GOL’s presence at Sao Paulo Guarulhos has grown by over 9% in the last year, which makes it similar in movements to archrival TAM at Brazil’s busiest airport, though around 8% smaller in terms of weekly seats. Of GOL’s 12 busiest airports this summer, just three have seen an increase in the number of flights. Apart from Guarulhos, GOL has also increased its activity at Recife and Florianopolis, though in both cases, by less than 3%.

GOL's capacity cuts Change in weekly flights at top 12 airports Jul13 v Jul12 [Weekly departures in July 2013]

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for July 2013 and July 2012

An advert for GOL’s Santo Domingo scissor hub

An advert for GOL’s Santo Domingo scissor hub appears in Portuguese aimed at the Brazilian market. It’s too far for GOL’s 737-800s to sensibly fly from Brazil to US markets (7,000km for Rio-Orlando) – GOL’s Santo Domingo scissor hub seems to be a succeeding solution – at least one further US destination may be added soon.

Scissor hub in Dominican Republic creates US opportunities

A key development in GOL’s network strategy has been the creation of a ‘scissor’ hub at Santo Domingo Airport in the Dominican Republic. Using 737-800s, there are daily flights from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to Santo Domingo, which then fly on to Miami and Orlando. Whereas the US sectors are around 1,500 kilometres, the flights from Brazil to Santo Domingo are well over 5,000 kilometres, resulting in payload restrictions on these sectors. However, the airline recently confirmed that the routes are performing well and that at least one further US destination may be added soon.

The other main development in terms of new routes has been the expansion at Sao Paulo Guarulhos. The following routes have been identified by anna.aero as having launched in the last 12 months.

Route Date launched WF* Route type Sector length
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Montevideo (MVD) 15 Aug 12 7 International 1,568 km
Curitiba (CWB) – Buenos Aires (EZE) 15 Aug 12 7 International 1,368 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Santa Cruz (VVI) 01 Sep 12 7 International 1,851 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Asuncion (ASU) 25 Sep 12 1 International 1,138 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Cordoba (COR) 29 Oct 12 7 International 1,955 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Rio de Janeiro (SDU) 30 Oct 12 19 Domestic 344 km
Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – Santo Domingo (SDQ) 15 Dec 12 7 International 5,391 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Santo Domingo (SDQ) 15 Dec 12 7 International 5,272 km
Santo Domingo (SDQ) – Orlando (MCO) 15 Dec 12 7 International 1,625 km
Santo Domingo (SDQ) – Miami (MIA) 15 Dec 12 7 International 1,365 km
Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – Cuiaba (CGB) 23 Feb 13 7 Domestic 1,568 km
Salvador (SSA) – Vitoria (VIX) 23 Feb 13 7 Domestic 840 km
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Uberlandia (UDI) 23 Feb 13 13 Domestic 534 km
Campo Grande (CGR) – Maringa (MGF) 23 Feb 13 7 Domestic 430 km
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for July 2013 and July 2012
* Weekly frequency when route was launched
NB: Sorted by launch date, and then on sector length

The Sao Paulo (GRU) to Rio de Janeiro (SDU) route was operated with typically three flights per day until 23 February, when frequency was increased to between eight and 10 flights per day. Other routes, such as Brasilia – Natal, Sao Paulo (GRU) – Joao Pessoa, and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) – Campo Grande, resumed in late February 2013 after having previously operated until April or May 2012.

 GOL returned to the US market in mid-December  with a new strategy. Non-stop flights with the airline's 737-800s are not practical, so GOL has created a scissor hub at Santo Domingo Airport in the Dominican Republic, enabling it to serve Miami and Orlando in Florida, from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The first arrival in Miami received the traditional wet welcome.


Comments

  1. Dear Friends,

    Great report. However, Gol never operated the route Sao Paulo (GRU) – Panama City (PTY). This is route is atended by a very limited codeshare agreement with Copa Airlines.

    King regards,
    Rafael

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