Air Transport World

Carriers collaborate on two successful shuttles. (in Brazil)

Carriers collaborate on two successful shuttles Sao Paulo, Brazil--Brazil holds claims to pioneering scheduled air shuttle service, a credible claim in lin with the nation's continuing status as a developing nation. Brazil's first air shuttle--Ponte Aerea--not only started and thrived, it became an idea imitated elsewhere and provided a model for the nation's regional airline industry. And with the advent of Voo Direto ao Centro (VDC), Brazil claims both the world's oldest and youngest shuttles.

According to local claims Ponte Aerea is the world's oldest air shuttle service. It began operating in 1959 connecting Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Ponte Aerea in English, "Air Bridge"--became the model for other shuttle services such as Eastern Airlines' system connecting Boston and Wash., D.C., to New York City.

VDC, which began operations on Jan. 1, 1986 is modeled after Ponte Aerea.

But what makes Ponte Aerea and VDC unique is their ownership and management structures: both shuttles are jointly owned by other, independent carriers. In VDC's case, Rio Sul, TAM and Votec--three of the nation's five regionals--form VDC (ATW, 3/87, 4/87). Ponte Aerea is owned by Brazil's four trunk carriers. Flag carrier Varig owns the aircraft, manages the operation and receives 50% of Ponte Aerea's profits, a quid pro quo with its share in the shuttl. Vasp owns 22%, Cruzeiro 19%, Transbrasil 7%, and they receive like shares of the shuttle's gains. …

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