Varig to drop London, Frankfurt and Rome

4 Feb 2008 by Mark Caswell

According to a slogan on Varig’s website  the airline is “growing at the speed of light.” But that’s not the case as regards Europe where, in a shock move, Varig has just decided to cut the number of destinations from five to two.

The airline had only just returned to the market after a spell of bankruptcy, and had relaunched its European services late last year (see online news October 31, 2007).

Yet in an abrupt about turn, the Brazilian carrier has now decided to concentrate on its European services to Paris CDG and Madrid.  Services from Brazil to London Heathrow will end on March 1 with Frankfurt and Rome following on March 29.

According to a company statement, “Varig customers will be able to make connections at Paris CDG and Madrid for the most important destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East through our partner airlines.”   Varig says it is using Air France for connections to/from Paris CDG, with Iberia in the case of Madrid.

Varig had been flying with B767s between Heathrow and Sao Paulo non-stop with the same flight continuing to Rio de Janeiro.

As yet Varig is unable to give an official reason for the cutbacks but it’s believed to be cost-related (it costs less to offer connections rather than run direct flights) and also reflects the increased competition the carrier now faces.  European carriers provide more non-stop flights with passenger-pleasing aircraft while Emirates (which late last year launched non-stop Dubai-Sao Paulo flights) will have captured some of those Varig passengers originating from or destined for the Middle East and Asia.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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