Of German origin, Flixbus arrived in Brazil in December 2021, with the aim of adapting its European business model to the Brazilian standard. At first, the brand made a aggressive promotion of tickets at R$ 1.00 for the hitherto only two routes -from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro or Belo Horizonte- when it sold more than 40,000 travel tickets.
A year later, the mobility technology company evaluates the arrival in the first Latin country as positive, where it invested more than US$ 100 million. In the meantime, it inaugurated other direct routes in Goiás and Brasília, in addition to serving parts of the south, northeast and center-west with partnerships.
Given the success, the company continues to expand its operations in the southeast, and should launch another three routes in the first quarter of 2023, as anticipated by Edson Lopes, CEO of Flixbus, in an exclusive interview with InfoMoney🇧🇷 Due to contractual issues, the routes have not yet been disclosed, but they will complement the Campinas (SP)-Angra dos Reis (RJ) route, which began operating at the beginning of this month.
“From a partner, in December last year, we now have eight routes signed, five of which are already on sale. It is a positive balance, as we will end the year with more than 300,000 passengers transported. As of the next quarter, we expect to serve 13 states and more than 50 cities, despite regulatory difficulties and pressure from the traditional sector. ”, points out Lopes.
The company now invests in publicizing its services not only online, where it is best known, but also offline. Lopes assesses that, although digitization is high in the country, the presence of counters at bus stations is important, for example, to serve the public who go there to make reservations.
“It is clear that there is work to try to migrate those who have the habit of buying offline, but, especially in smaller cities, where the bus station is close to home, people usually go there to buy”, he points out. “Today, we are present at bus terminals and partnering with travel agencies to target this audience”, she clarifies.
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On the global stage, Flixbus currently operates in 39 countries, operating more than 1,600 routes connecting 3,000 destinations, especially in the northern hemisphere. In the accumulated of 2022, more than 130 million tickets were issued, a number more than double the number registered in the same period last year.
Flixbus operates in Brazil in a different model from traditional transport companies, which manage the entire travel process, from operation to ticket sales. The company, however, is left with more bureaucratic issues, such as pricing, marketing and sales, while the partners are responsible for the transport service itself.
Following this strategy, efforts are focused on expanding the brand and technology across the country, in addition to being a way to escape direct clashes with the economic groups that dominate the road market.
Although it was successful in this first year, from time to time, legal discussions put the future of this business model in the country in check. Some jurists claim that this way of operating, regulated by ANTT (National Land Transport Agency) in 2015, it is not legal, as it eliminates the need for prior bidding for interstate lines, unlike what used to happen, and defines the special authorization regime.
Last week, the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region (TRF1) judged a lawsuit on the subject that claimed that this regime was unconstitutional. By 14 votes to 1, the Special Court of the appellate court decided on the constitutionality of the regulation, but there are other actions with the same objective in progress in the Federal Supreme Court (STF).
The Brazilian Association of Mobility and Technology (Mobitec) celebrated the decision and said that this is an important step towards providing legal certainty to the sector, especially to applications that sell tickets, such as Flixbus and Buser🇧🇷 The entity highlighted that, due to this authorization model, in 2020 alone, 6,700 new connections between cities emerged, in addition to the inclusion of 128 municipalities that were not served by road transport.
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Lopes stresses that, unlike other countries that have a sufficient and competitive air network, bus transport has relevance and a social role in Brazil. “The size of the market is huge and there have been changes that have followed the path of democratizing this service in the country, such as the arrival of the special authorization regime and some ANTT resolutions that made it possible for new players to enter interstate transport”, concludes the person responsible for Flixbus in Brazil.