Brazilian airlines Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras and Trip Linhas Aereas said Thursday they expect regulatory approval for their merger by the end of this year and have filed code-sharing requests to begin integrating their flights.
Azul, the airline headed by JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) founder David Neeleman, and Trip said Thursday the merged company, which would be Brazil's third-biggest airline with a 16% market share, would operate under the Azul brand. The companies have started the gradual shift to the unified brand, but because they are awaiting antitrust approval, they aren't carrying out a full integration as they must be able to reverse those steps should the merger not be given the go-ahead.
To start integrating the companies, Azul and Trip have formalized code-sharing requests with civil-aviation authorities, which allow each company to sell seats on the other company's flights.
Azul and Trip announced in May they planned to merge to better compete with bigger rivals Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (GOLL4.BR, GOL), which recently took over regional carrier WebJet, and Tam SA, which in June finalized its merger with Chile's Lan to form Latam Airlines Group (LAN.SN).
During a Thursday presentation, the combined Azul said it also had requested additional flights at Guarulhos international airport in Sao Paulo. It is seeking 20 pairs of slots, or take-off and landing times, at Brazil's biggest airport.