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Attendees stand in line in front of a Boeing Co. aircraft operated by GOL Airlines SA during the International Brazil Air Show (IBAS) at Rio Galeao International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, April 1, 2017.
Brazil’s largest airline will be trying a completely new tack to get passengers to pay more expensive fares: No middle seats.
Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes will be launching its first nonstop flights by Brazil to the U.S. in early November. The airline will use its completely new Boeing 737 Max 8 jets on the routes by Fortaleza in northerneastern Brazil as well as by the capital Brasilia to Miami as well as Orlando.
Gol operates an all-Boeing 737 fleet, like Southwest Airlines within the U.S., with three seats across on either side of the aisle. In order to make its premium economy section more attractive for travelers flying the longest routes around at nearly 8 hours, the airline will block off a middle seat using a table that will stays on the seat for the duration of the flight, CFO Richard Lark told CNBC.
Fares vary. yet a recent search for a roundtrip ticket in early November between Orlando as well as Fortaleza on Gol’s website showed a premium economy seat was $636, more than double the cheapest coach class fare. Premium economy seats also feature 34 inches of legroom compared with 31 inches in regular economy.
Gol, like some other carriers, will be relying on customers to opt for higher fares to help cover the cost of fuel, which will be up by more than a third within the last year. Carriers like United Airlines as well as Delta Air Lines said such premium products are catching on, so far.
Gol isn’t ruling out further expansion within the U.S. yet for right now that will will be focusing on Florida. Brazil will be the state’s third-biggest source of foreign visitors after Canada as well as the United Kingdom.
The airline will be, however, planning to pursue a joint venture with Delta, Lark said, yet he did not give a time-frame. Delta carries a 9.5 percent stake in Gol as well as the two have a code sharing agreement, which means they can sell each some other’s flights. Delta as well as Gol passengers can also earn as well as use frequent flyer miles on the some other airline. A joint venture goes further than that will as that will can allow airlines to share profits or revenue as well as coordinate schedules.
A Delta spokeswoman said the company had no news about a potential joint venture with Gol.
Gol reports third-quarter earnings on Nov. 1 before the market opens.