United Airlines and Azul Brazilian Airlines recently announced a new strategic partnership in which United will acquire a roughly five percent stake in Azul, Brazil’s third-largest airline.
This move paves the way for the carriers to cooperate on a range of customer benefits, including codesharing of flights (subject to government approval), expanded connection opportunities on routes between the United States and Brazil, in addition to other points in North and South America, and joint loyalty program participation.
Through a wholly owned subsidiary, United will invest $100 million for its economic stake in Azul, which includes one seat on Azul’s board of directors. Azul serves more destinations in Brazil than any other Brazilian carrier, including more than 50 daily flights from Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport. This new partnership will offer customers more flight choices and convenient connections for travel between the United States and destinations in Brazil.
In addition, the partnership will enable United and Azul to provide an improved transfer process at Guarulhos for timely connections for customers and their baggage. The airlines announced plans for United to place its code on flights in Azul’s extensive network from Guarulhos to key destinations throughout Brazil, as well as on Azul’s flights to Florida; Azul plans to place its code on United routes throughout North America and the Caribbean, pending government approval.
As a result of the partnership, United and Azul will expand their frequent flyer loyalty agreement. MileagePlus and TudoAzul members will have reciprocal benefits to earn and redeem miles systemwide on both airlines. As their partnership grows, the carriers will work to expand the offerings for loyalty program members.