Following on from Part 1 VARIG by the mid-1960s was Brazil's primary international airline, but in getting to this position, through its acqusition of its competitors, it sure had gained a varied fleet. VARIG had chosen the 707-441 as its primary long-haul jet type but REAL and Panair do Brasil had not and that led to multiple jet types in service. Eventually however VARIG would in the 1970s be able to clean things up a bit and standardise on McDonnell Douglas' DC-10 trijet.
The REAL takeover boosted VARIG's International services adding various Latin American cities, Miami, the US West Coast and an impressive Japanese service. By that time jets were in use with 707-400s operating to New York non-stop since July 1960. These in fact replaced Sud-Aviation Caravelles which had been operating the route via Belem, Trinidad and Nassau since July 1959! What a route that must have been in a Caravelle.
VARIG inherited REAL's order for 3 CV-990s also and somewhat reluctantly took them into service from 1963. European services began very suddenly in February 1965 when Panair do Brasil was shutdown by the government. Varig inherited their pair of DC-8-30s meaning it operated all three competing US products - B707, CV-990 and DC-8! It was the only airline in the world to do so.
None of those types were however well suited to the post-1973 Oil Crisis marketplace or the widebody revolution leading to Varig choosing the DC-10 as its future widebody. The first arrived on July 1st 1974 enabling non-stop Paris services for the first time. Fifteen DC-10s would eventually serve with the airline with PP-VMX being the penultimate arrival as late as 1981. The DC-10s served into the early 90s supplemented then replaced by 747s, 767s and MD11s. VMX was leased to LAPSA for 4 months in late 1993 and leased to World and Garuda before final sale to Northwest in 1999 with whom she became N242NW. She was scheduled to join ATA in 2007 but after their collapse instead went to World as N138WA and was finally withdrawn in November 2010.
The Oil Crisis also enabled Varig to profit at its competitor's expense as it tookover Cruzeiro do Sul in 1975, though it kept its identity until 1993. In many ways the end of 1970s were the high point for Varig. Despite modernising its fleet and expanding its route map, in the 80s increasing financial problems caused by mismanagement, competition and economic turmoil began to afflict the airline. These would eventually lead to its demise though it did manage to soldier on into the next millennium.
Incidentally I discovered this great website dedicated to VARIG:
::: | VARIG | ::: English
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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: