UPDATE 1-Brazil's Azul cuts April flight plans by 10 pct -source
(Adds background on shelved IPO plans, fleet expansion)
By Aluisio Alves
SAO PAULO, March 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian airline Azul is cutting planned flights in April by nearly 10 percent from earlier forecasts, according to a source with knowledge of the decision, as the company feels the impact of the strong dollar.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Azul is also unlikely to add flights to Orlando, Florida, in May, as the airline had suggested earlier this month.
Brazil's currency has lost about 16 percent against the dollar so far this year, driving up the cost of a trip to Disney World for vacationing Brazilians.
The stronger greenback also increases operating costs for airlines such as Azul that pay fuel and leasing contracts linked to the dollar but receive most revenue in Brazilian reais.
A press officer for Azul, which is controlled by JetBlue Airways Corp founder David Neeleman, declined to comment. The airline earlier this year shelved a planned initial public offering.
The decision to trim flights after years of surging growth shows Azul may be bending to the reality of a slumping Brazilian economy, despite plans for aggressive fleet expansion and a recently launched international service.
In December, Azul ordered 35 Airbus A320neo jets and announced plans to lease another 28 of the narrow-body aircraft. This adds to 11 Airbus wide-body jets that will fly to overseas destinations that Azul started serving this year. Continuación...