GOL building back domestic network to near pre-COVID-19 level

Brazilian LCC GOL expects to operate 78% of its pre-COVID-19 pandemic fleet in the fourth quarter as it works toward restoring its full domestic network by year-end.

GOL and its rival Azul Brazilian Airlines have been adding back capacity faster than airlines operating elsewhere as non-corporate demand within Brazil continues to steadily climb. Nevertheless, Brazil’s domestic passenger levels were down 61% year-on-year in September.

Despite the still-significant decreases in passengers, GOL believes sequential, month-to-month trends are encouraging. During September, the airline posted a 60% increase in ticket sales compared with August, and gross sales for the third quarter grew by 132% compared with the second quarter.

“The number of customers flying with us tripled in Q3 compared to the previous quarter, which is a remarkable rebound given the challenging market environment,” GOL CEO Paulo Kakinoff said.

At the end of the third quarter, GOL had a total fleet of 129 aircraft, with on average 63 in operation. In the fourth quarter, the airline expects its average operating fleet to reach 92 aircraft, which is roughly 78% of the aircraft GOL deployed in the last three months of 2019.

GOL aims to fully re-establish the domestic network it operated prior to the COVID-19 crisis by the end of December, which would represent approximately 80% of its 2019 capacity. The airline also expects to resume operations of its Boeing 737 MAX jets in December. GOL’s fleet of seven 737 MAX 8s has been grounded since 2019.

Photo credit: Joe Pries

Lori Ranson

Lori covers North American and Latin airlines for Aviation Week and is also a Senior Analyst for CAPA - Centre for Aviation.