Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos had a meteoric trajectory in the second half of 2021, not being in operation for six months. Last week, the company’s president announced the sale of the company and Ita Bank to Baifaker Consulting, a fintech under the trade name Bcbank.
Owned by businessman Galeb Baufaker Júnior, the consulting company should not be the definitive owner of the new Itapemirim. In an interview with UOLBaufaker says that he is still creating a specific CNPJ to house the airline, and that the current buying company of Itapemirim is in the name of his ex-wife.
The businessman is still completing the survey of the liabilities and assets of Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos and Ita Bank, but says that the payments and transfer should be completed soon.
One of the great challenges that the new owner will have to face, in addition to the company’s debts, is the recovery of confidence in the company, which was in a delicate situation after suddenly stopping flying in December 2021.
Business of BRL 400 million
Baufaker says he is still finishing the deal, for which he claims to be disbursing around R$400 million that will come from credit funds and investors who prefer to remain anonymous.
Of this total, he estimates that R$ 180 million will be related to the payment of the company’s debts, such as labor, tax and supplier liabilities. The remainder (R$ 220 million) would be used for investment and to form working capital to fly again.
In the deal, Baufaker says that Piva will not receive any value for divesting the airline. The objective is to dismember the two companies of the Itapemirim Group, which is undergoing judicial recovery and whose creation of the airline while maintaining billions in debt was harshly questioned.
With the consolidation of the business, says Baufaker, the Justice must be informed of the procedures and, later, the two companies must leave the eyes of the judicial recovery. For this, the businessman will have to return to the cashier of the Itapemirim Group the more than R$ 34 million in expenses related to the airline, according to data from the judicial administrator of the Itapemirim Group released in January, the last available balance sheet.
Same name and same team
Baufaker says he should keep the company name for now, as he wants to “save the brand.” “I saw the opportunity and the name. The legacy, if it is well built, does not end. All problems can happen, but it is ‘A Itapemirim'”, he says, referring to the importance that the name Itapemirim has in the world of transport of passengers in Brazil.
The businessman, who admits that he has no experience in the aviation sector, says he will keep a large part of the company’s management, like the president Adalberto Bogsan, who took over the company at the beginning of its operation. “I always want to hit the key: The operation started well and will return well”, says Baufaker about how the company managed to fly initially despite the problems it faced on the way.
Asked about keeping a large part of the same team that was in the company when its operations were closed, he reinforced his confidence in the professionals. “What kept Itapemirim Transportes Aéreos running until the sudden stop was the training and quality of its professionals,” he said.
resumption of trust
The businessman says he is confident that his plan to resume flights in eight capital cities where Itapemirim already operated with five planes is fully viable. “With the right management, you can’t go wrong. You just have to stick to what you have”, says Baufaker.
Today, the businessman still has to deal with a COA (Air Operator Certificate) that was suspended by Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency) after alleged irregularities in the company came to light.
Although Anac no longer has to analyze the company’s financial capacity to release its operation, focusing only on the technical feasibility of future companies, the low share capital of the new owner of Itapemirim (R$ 100 thousand) can be a barrier. Since before the company stopped flying, several parliamentarians questioned how it managed to obtain authorization to operate with the available share capital, of R$380,000 at the time.
According to Baufaker, what will solve any possible problem for the company is not this money to start operating, but its ability to face the issues that may arise. “If Congress finds this [um valor mínimo de capital social para iniciar uma empresa no Brasil] is relevant, it will rip off the leg of anyone who wants to invest in the country”, says the businessman.
The National Union of Aeronauts, which represents flight attendants and pilots, also met with the businessman to discuss the future of workers, both those hired and those who left the company. At the end of the meeting, confirmed by the union and the businessman, an agreement was signed so that by May 3, a proposal to pay off labor debts will be presented.
Plans to fly again
After managing to get around the problems and, eventually, winning the right to fly again, the new Itapemirim would return to the air in five months, according to its new owner. The objective is to operate five A320 model aircraft to eight capitals.
Baufaker rules out carrying out a tariff war. “We’re not going to lower the ticket, because that doesn’t exist in the market. We want to reduce our profit margin and increase passenger comfort. I think it’s absurd to get on the plane and just drink soda and eat peanuts. We have to be affectionate”, he says. the entrepreneur.
The aircraft should be configured with the factory default to carry 174 passengers, not 162, as were the planes that operated until December by the company. For this, Baufaker says he is negotiating with leasing companies (a kind of lease) to pay off debts and return the planes to Brazil.
Itapemirim also gained prominence for not charging for booking seats and checking baggage, a general practice among the largest airlines. Baufaker discards offering these benefits again: “We will do according to the market, but we will practice much lower values than the competitors”.
Regarding the company’s growth for the coming years, although he cites a study on the possibility of carrying out international flights in two years, the businessman says he will be more cautious about expansion. “Let’s stick to the original plan [de operar em oito capitais com cinco aviões] and see the market reaction with what we already have. Having a balance of acceptance or rejection is that we will analyze the expansion”, says Baufaker.
Regarding the pressure he may face from the competition, the businessman says that this does not bother him, as he will try to offer a differentiated service on board, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. This same promise was made by the company’s former owner, Sidnei Piva, but it was not put into practice due to the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.