GOL cuts 18 routes; but more US routes possible via Santo Domingo hub
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.
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As part of the airline’s plan to return to profitability, a number of domestic (and international) routes have been withdrawn in the last 12 months.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%.
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.