Ryanair seeks stake in Brazilian airline
Published 01/02/2010 | 05:00
RYANAIR has offered to buy an undisclosed equity stake in the Brazilian airline, WebJet. WebJet owner Guilherme Paulus "received a first contact and heard a proposal from Ryanair", WebJet spokeswoman Priscila Bures said over the weekend.
WebJet, created by a group of five businessmen in 2004 with just two planes, has since expanded to a fleet of 20 aircraft and serves major Brazilian cities.
Talks with Ryanair are suspended until Brazil enacts a new law, expected in March, that will allow foreigners to own as much as 49pc of Brazilian airlines, up from the 20pc permitted under current legislation, the spokeswoman said.
Air travel by Brazilian airline companies increased 30.9pc in December from the same period last year, while travel on WebJet more than doubled. WebJet has about 5pc of Brazil's airline market.
A Ryanair spokeswoman declined to comment on the proposal, citing the company's policy concerning rumour or market speculation.
News of the possible investment comes as the global airline industry struggles to make money. The industry will take at least three years to recover after the worst recession in six decades hurt travel demand, Giovanni Bisignani, head of the International Air Transport Association, said yesterday.
The airline industry globally lost $50bn in the past 10 years, with $11bn (€7.9bn) in 2009 alone. Sales declined by $80bn last year. "We've had a terrible 10 years," Mr Bisignani said. "It would take at least three years to recover the level of growth we have lost."