Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A, Brazil’s largest domestic passenger airline, said cargo revenue increased 80% in the first quarter compared to 2022 on the strength of its new dedicated freighter service for e-commerce seller Mercado Livre.
Gol (NYSE: GOL) began flying a Boeing 737-800 converted freighter for the South American online marketplace in late August and now has three of the aircraft shuttling packages across the country every day, according to the airline’s earnings report on Wednesday. One aircraft was delivered during the first quarter after being retrofitted for cargo by Boeing in China.
Two additional 737-800 freighters are scheduled to enter service by next month. The fleet will grow to six aircraft by the end of the year. The airline last year entered into a 10-year transportation services agreement with Mercado Livre to take advantage of the growing e-commerce market in Brazil and diversify its revenue. Gol is leasing the aircraft from AerCap Holdings (NYSE: AER) and has an option to add six more of the standard-size cargo jets by 2025.
Gol sold $36 million worth of cargo services during the first quarter. Total airline revenue grew 52.8% to $939.4 million, driving earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation to $237.4 million.
Mercado Livre established in-house air cargo operation Meli Air two years ago to ensure fast delivery in the mushrooming Latin American e-commerce market, much like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) in the United States. Other contract carriers include Brazilian cargo airline Sideral Linhas Aéreas and Mexico-based charter carrier Aeronaves TSM, both of which operate older 737 aircraft types. Azul, another Brazilian airline, operates one cargo jet for Mercado.
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