Air Transport World

New tango in Rio. (Viacao Aerea Sao Paulo S.A. expands) (Company Profile)

SAO PAULO-The privatization of VASP in September, 1990 brought profound change to air transport in Brazil. The "new" VASP has been playing the game in a much more aggressive way, creating a shock wave of changes that has swept away market values and set new standards. As the saying goes, in life, you have to dance to the music being played. So the other airlines had no choice but to catch up with the rhythm of the new soloist.

The new major shareholders of VASP-a consortium set up by the Brazilian Canhedo group of companies, Voe-a company organized by the airline's employees-and Wagner Canhedo, the daring entrepreneur who is the main power, have surprised the industry again and again. The team appears to be attuned to the new business philosophy of Brazil, which leans to free enterprise and market liberalization.

The very first surprise for many experts here was that Canhedo won the bid, paying $43 million for 60% of the airline's shares. Of the two final bidders-64 made offers in the early stages-many thought that regional carrier TAM would surface with the flag.

Canhedo, who has no commercial aviation background, was not well known in the main business circles of Sio Paulo and Rio de janeiro, the two financial centers of the country. Even in the capital city of Brasilia, his main base, he has kept a low profile in relation to the media and the public.

The son of a poor Spanish immigrant, he started a trucking business jointly with his father. in the late 1950s, he saw a great opportunity hauling construction materials for Brazil's new capital city, which was being constructed from scratch in the so-called West-Center of the territory, away from major cities. By the age of 26, Canhedo had amassed a $1 million fortune, which had been built to $1 billion and 15 companies do included buses, mining, cattle breeding, car rentals, a travel agency and even aviation, stabilizing an air-taxi service by the time of his VASP bid.


I really love aviation. I learned to fly at age 19 and have logged some 10,000 hours as a private pilot certified up to business turboprops. So I always had had the dream of owning my own airline," he says. "The intention was to upgrade our Brata taxi operator to a regional carrier and later to a major national airline. But the VASP opportunity came up first."

The dream had its price, however. …

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