Brazilian carrier Azul (AZUL) generated an operating profit for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave an optimistic assessment of its future prospects.

Brazil’s largest airline said growing numbers of vaccinations in Brazil gave it confidence for 2022 and beyond, even in spite of headwinds from fuel and currency costs. 

“Vaccinations continue to increase, Brazilian cities have reopened, companies are coming back to the office and international border restrictions have been lifted,” chief executive John Rodgerson said in a statement on November 11, 2021. “These improvements along with our unique fleet and network advantages renew the confidence in our plans for 2022.”

The carrier said that it generated an operating income of R$136.3 million ($25.2 million) in the third quarter to September 30, 2021, against a loss of R$400 million ($74 million) one year ago.  Its revenue per available seat kilometer (RASK) also recovered to 2019 levels for the first time since the crisis, driven by domestic traffic. 

In presentation slides available on its website, the carrier said current domestic booked fares and revenues were at record levels, surpassing 2019 levels. 

As for many other airlines, cargo is also proving a bright spot. Azul (AZUL) said it was on track to double cargo revenue in 2021 to over R$1 billion ($185 million) and said the high growth would continue in 2022 and beyond. 

“This incremental revenue growth is driven by new customers who are leveraging our air logistics solutions to reduce their delivery times, leading to sustainable and profitable growth in both their businesses and ours,” Rodgerson commented. 

Azul (AZUL) also predicted that its group 2022 earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) would surpass 2019 levels and margins would improve beyond that.