Viacao Aerea RIo Grandense Airlines, abbreviated as VARIG Airlines, is a Brazilian airline located at Sao Paulo. It had been the leading airline offering air travel in Brazil for a long period of time, spanning 1960’s to mid-2000s. The airline was auctioned in 2006 and is currently owned by Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (parent company of Gol Transportes Aéreos). After its acquisition, a new company, by the name of VRG Linhas Aereas, was formed to manage the airline. However, the airline continues to operate under the name of VARIG. It has a fleet of 20 aircrafts at present, which include Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 767-300ER.
VARIG Airlines was founded on May 7, 1927, at the Porto Alegre Commercial Association meeting, as the first Brazilian airline. The airline became functional on 15 July 1927, when its first flight took off from Porto Alegre to Rio Grande, halting in Pelotas. Cruzeiro do Sul, one of the oldest airlines of Brazil, merged completely into VARIG in January 1933. VARIG Airlines flew on the first international route on 5th August 1942, to Montevideo. Till then, the airline was operating at the local level, in Southern Brazil. It became the largest airline in South America, as it took over the Real Transportes Aereos consortium in 1961.
VARIG Airlines started its transatlantic services in 1969, when the military government in Brazil shut down Panair, the then flag carrier. In 1985, the airlines' headquarters were centered at Rio de Janeiro. In 2006, judicial administrator of VARIG's assets announced its auction, following bankruptcy. VarigLog, the cargo subsidiary of the airlines, was sold to the Volo do Brasil consortium. VEM Maintenance & Engineering, VARIG's maintenance centre, was bought by a consortium presided by Portuguese airline TAP Portugal. In March 2007, Gol officially purchased the bankrupt remains of VARIG - VRG.
Among the domestic destinations covered by VARIG Airlines are Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Sao Paulo and Southern Brazil. The international destinations that it serves are Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile in South America. Its services to Japan, Europe, U.S and many other foreign destinations were terminated. It might start operating flights to many international destinations again, in the near future, including India.
VARIG suffered major economic setbacks in its long journey. After running into heavy losses, it applied for judicial reorganization proceedings to the Commercial Bankruptcy and Reorganization court in Rio de Janeiro, while it continued to provide services. VARIG was sold to Volo for $ 24 million. In 2006, the airline was also suspended from the global Star Alliance, when it failed to fulfill the membership requirements. Finally, VARIG was acquired by Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes. It was decided to pump up the existing fleet from 17 to 34, to cover 12 international destinations. It was decided that VARIG’s international flights will no longer have first class and only economy class and business class travel would be offered. In April 2009, Varig’s online booking service and frequent flyer program was merged into those of Gol Varig's website.