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Brazilian airline Azul begins trading at the NYSE, shoots 8% higher

Brazilian airline Azul opened at $22 per share in its market debut on Tuesday, rising as much as 8 percent intraday.

The debut came as the allure of Brazilian airlines has grown among foreign investors. The government has eased foreign ownership of carriers and the economy begins to show signs of emerging from a deep recession.

The company raised 2.021 billion reals ($645 million) in a dual initial public offering in Sao Paulo and New York on Monday, as soaring investor demand led Brazil's No. 3 airline to boost the size of the deal by almost one-fifth.

Azul signage at the New York Stock Exchange, April 11, 2017.
Source: NYSE
Azul signage at the New York Stock Exchange, April 11, 2017.

Azul founder and former JetBlue CEO David Neeleman told CNBC on Tuesday traffic in Brazil has doubled and the company has taken about half of that new traffic.

"The challenges in Brazil are big, but the opportunity is bigger," Neeleman, who launched Azul in 2008, said on "Squawk on the Street."

"We are an airline today that does 26 percent of all the domestic air revenue in Brazil. That's from zero to 26 in eight years," he said.

The company has made repeated efforts at an IPO since 2013. Azul eventually raised new capital through private stake sales in 2015 to United Continental and China's HNA Group.

"Brazil is a pretty volatile economy but during the time as things were going in Brazil, we were just building our business, building our business, adding more and more cities and building a stronger route network so the company is much stronger today than back then," Neeleman said.

— Reuters contributed to this report.