Varig retreats from Europe

16 Apr 2008 by Mark Caswell

Brazilian airline Varig will drop its last two remaining European destinations in the coming months. Flights from Madrid to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will cease on May 12, with flights from Paris CDG ending on June 9.

The move follows the suspension of flights from London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Rome last March (see online news, February 4).

The carrier, which was a member of Star Alliance before its financial woes and considered the leading Latin American airline, blames the rising cost of fuel and fierce competition from rival carriers for the move to retreat from international routes.

Besides its European services, Varig has also announced it will drop flights to Mexico City with effect from May 11. This means that Varig’s revised route network will now be confined to South America.

A spokesperson for Varig says: “Operating costs in the highly competitive international market have increased substantially with persistent increases in oil prices. Fuel currently represents nearly 40 per cent of Varig’s operating costs.”

One major problem Varig faced was that its B767s with older-style premium class seating competed against the likes of British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa, all of which were offering newer products on passenger-pleasing aircraft.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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