February 24, 2014
UniAzul, the new training center for the merging airlines Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras and Trip Linhas Aereas, centralizes the carriers' training needs, but also serves as a catalyst for bringing the companies together toward their unified growth plan. So it is fitting that the 6,000-sq.-meter training university for the airlines opened in October 2013, the same month that the carriers received Brazilian ANAC regulatory approval to integrate operations.
The majority of airline unions approved compensation packages on Jan. 13, which should allow the airlines to receive final merger approval by March 31, according to Evandro Braga de Oliveira, Azul's technical director.
Although the airlines had very similar cultures before the merger began on May 25, 2012, UniAzul near Viracopos-Campinas Airport in southeastern Brazil is the entrance point for new employees to absorb the company's policies, values and goals—as well as receive specific job training. For Azul and Trip employees, “this is a rich experience for all of us—to put it all together,” says Monica Martins Mitraub, a hostess at UniAzul.
Because it now serves as the only training center for employees—including pilot, maintenance, flight attendant, cargo, dispatch and administrative—it is a good way to derive synergies through training. It also standardizes education and centralizes records, as well as “shows that the company believes in training and employee renewal,” says Gessica Gasparin Gomes, technical training manager.
It includes four full-flight simulators, two flat-panel fixed-based devices, 15 classrooms, one auditorium, a cafeteria and administrative space. This mixture of high-tech training pays homage to each airline's history in a modern, sun-lit edifice. Images of each of the airlines' aircraft by tail number decorate one wall. The airlines add at least 50 employees each month, although a new group of 140 started on Jan. 20 and comprised five dispatchers, 28 flight attendants, 35 mechanics, cargo and administrative staff. Because of this influx, about 350 employees are training daily at UniAzul, and the company expects to train about 1,050 people each year on average.
Azul is the only Brazilian airline to feature LiveTV, so one room is full of seatback monitors, which are used to test new software, hardware and programming, as well as allow maintainers to troubleshoot equipment in a simulated environment.
Azul operates to 105 destinations with a fleet of 134 aircraft, including 52 Embraer 195s, 22 Embraer 190s, five Embraer 175s, 32 ATR 72-600s, 14 ATR 72-500s and nine ATR 42-500s. It expects to take delivery of seven ATR 72-600s and six Embraer E-Jets in 2014.