By the mid-70s Cruzeiro was in financial trouble and this resulted on May 22, 1975 in the sale of the airline to the Ruben Berta Foundation, which was already the majority owner of VARIG. From that day forward Cruzeiro was operated as a subsidiary of VARIG though it kept its own identity. Unsurprisingly the route structures and fleets of the two airlines were rationalised. The Brazilian market was regulated and the combined Cruzeiro / VARIG was alotted a 45% share with the remaining 55% split between VASP and Transbrasil. Despite this Cruzeiro / VARIG had a monopoly on international services.
VARIG added a pair of 737-2K9s fresh from the factory on lease from BIAL in 1982 (PP-VNF/G). They also acquired new Boeing 737-300s from 1987, however in comparison Cruzeiro's fleet actually contracted in the late 1980s as the A300s and a 727 left. Cruzeiro's debts had never been repaid and the airline remained unprofitable throughout the 80s. Issues didn't come to a head until February 1993 when Cruzeiro was finally merged into its parent and ceased to exist. Despite this the last 737 didn't gain VARIG colours until 1997!
All of Cruzeiro's 737s joined VARIG and in fact, with their increasingly perilous financial position, the 737-200 fleet actually increased at the expense of the newer (and no doubt more expensive) series 300s. Another pair of 737-200s were leased as late as 1997 and the rundown of the fleet did not begin until 2001 (though PP-VMK had been written off in 1989). Cruzeiro's first 737, PP-CJN, survived until September 2001 when she was written off in an accident upon landing at Goiania (the gear collapsed). VARIG's PP-VMH wasn't sold on until July 2005 - though she had been withdrawn in July 2003. She joined Chilean Aerolineas del Sur as CC-CIJ. In 2008 she was transferred to Air Comet Chile but they ceased operations in October and she was withdrawn.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: