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In 1952 VARIG bought Aero Gal, which enabled VARIG to expand its lines to Brazil's northeast, serving also Vitória, Salvador, Maceió, Recife, João Pessoa and Natal. In 1953 the line to Montevideo was expanded to Buenos Aires, VARIG's second international destination. The first flight took off on 30 June, on Rio de Janeiro - Sao Paulo - Porto Alegre - Montevideo - Buenos Aires route, operated with Curtiss C-46 three times a week. At that time the flight lasted about seven hours and ten minutes.

In 1953 VARIG made a complete restructure after received government permission to operate flights to the United States. VARIG ordered Convair 240 and four-engine Lockheed Super G Constellation. Convair 240 was the fastest aircraft at that time and would complement the flights made by Constellation. VARIG also created a sophisticated high quality on board and ground service.

On July 28, 1955 VARIG’s first flight to New York took off. Initially were two weekly flights that departed from Rio de Janeiro to New York, with stops in Belém, Port of Spain and Santo Domingo. The flight also proceeded to south, from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. With the flight to the USA, VARIG hired, for the first time, female flight attendant, as hitherto only men served in this role. Since Constellation had beds and was not appropriate women and children with pajamas be cared by men. The comfort and the on-board service offered by VARIG in Constellation were unparalleled and made the company internationally recognized for its quality. The Super G Constellation had 15 Tourist Class seats on the front of the plane: 5 rows, 3+2 seats. Two toilets behind, followed by 28 First Class seats arranged in four rows, 2+2. Then there was a living room with rotating seats. And then more 11 First Class seats. VARIG’s kitchen had cook from The Russian Royal Family and, for many people, VARIG’s food was better than any restaurant in Brazil.

To maintain its position as a pioneer and stay ahead of its competitors, VARIG ordered new Boeing 707 jet, in September 1957, and Caravelle jet in October. Brazil’s first jet aircraft arrived in September 1959, it was VARIG’s first Caravelle, immediately used on Rio – New York route. VARIG was the first airline in the world to operate a pure jet at JFK airport in New York. With Caravelle, the flight between Rio de Janeiro and New York was reduced from 25 hours to 14 hours. Nevertheless, Constellation still shared the route with Caravelle. The route was done twice a week with Constellation and twice a week with Caravelle, a total of four weekly frequencies.


                              Welcome aboard of VARIG's Super G Constellation

The route between Rio de Janeiro and New York was originally granted to Cruzeiro, but the company eventually gave up and VARIG was then selected to operate it. To compete with Pan Am, VARIG knew it needed to choose the right aircraft. De Havilland Comet 1, Vickers Viscount, Bristol Britannia, Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 and Lockheed Super G Constellation, were analyzed. The Constellation was chosen for being versatile, with better operating balance "BEP", better range and load capacity.

First Super Constellation arrival in Porto Alegre (Museu VARIG)

The introduction of a complex, advanced and big size aircraft, generated a complete modernization in the company, with a complete on-board service review, new hangars, warehouses, workshops and even a new corporate image. The Constellation was the first aircraft to present the classic VARIG's blue-strip paint at window.

In addition to the new look, VARIG prepared an on-board service that become a world reference. Luxury onboard VARIG's Super G Constellation included Thermidor lobsters, pheasants, foie gras, beluga caviar, Premier Crus Classes de Bordeaux and Champagne. All served by flight attendant in impeccable uniforms and makeup, silver cutlery, porcelain dinnerware and crystal glasses.

Meal was served in Japanese porcelain Noritake


Contellation Menu

(Museu VARIG)




01xCaravelle 1
04xConvair 240

12xCurtiss C-46
21xDouglas DC-3
03xLockheed L10 Electra I
05xLockheed L1049G Constellation

Rubem Martin Berta

International Destinations:
Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Port of Spain, Santo Domingo, New York

Domestic Destinations:
Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, Curitiba, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Vitória, Belmonte, Salvador, Aracajú, Penedo, Maceió, Recife, João Pessoa, Natal, Fortaleza, São Luis, Belém

Regional Destinations: 42



Regional, domestic and international route map - 1956



Convair 240 / Caravelle


Porto Alegre Airport in the 1950's: Convair 240, DC-3 and Lockheed Super G Constellation (Museu VARIG)


                              IN FOCUS: Varig VS. Real

Since July 1955 VARIG were focused on its more glamorous route linking Rio de Janeiro to New York. But the company had two main competitors: Pan Am and Real. Pan Am was simply the largest and most powerful airline in the world and to compete with her VARIG knew that it needed perfect service on ground and on board. Real was newbie and started international flights to Los Angeles and Miami, after buy Aerovias. Real called passengers attention with below average tariffs, but the dispute was best remembered who had the most modern aircraft.
Initially VARIG order was three Lockheed L1049E, known as Super E Constellation. But the company changed to the latest version, Lockheed L1049G or Super G Constellation.
After that Real acquired Locheed L1049H version and put in large letters "Super H Constellation". So people thought that Real's Constellation was more modern than VARIG's, because the letter H comes after G in the alphabet. But in fact, L1049H was nothing more than a convertible version of L1049G. The convertible version allowed the airline to quickly adapt the aircraft to carry cargo or passengers. Apart of this difference, L1049G and L1049H were identical and one wasn't more modern than the other.
However, shortly after, VARIG received more three Lockheed L1049G. This time the L1049G were equipped with wing tip tank (extra fuel tanks). With these extra fuel tanks, Super G Constellation could fly from Rio de Janeiro to New York with only one stop. So VARIG had the idea to paint in these tanks in red "Super Intercontinental", and the letter "I" was painted quite large and anyone who looked far read "Super I", then thinking that VARIG's Constellation should be more modern than Real's.
In 1961 VARIG bought Real and started to operate both Super G Constellation and Super H Constellation.






Dornier Wal "Atlântico"
Dornier Merkur "Gaúcho"
Klemm L-25
Junkers A-50
Junkers F-13
Messerschmitt 108 "Taiffun"
Messerschmitt M20
Junkers JU52
Fiat G2
De Havilland DH89A
Lockheed Electra I
Nordwyn UC641
Douglas DC-3
Curtiss C-46

Convair 240
Lockheed Super G Constellation
Caravelle 1
Boeing 707-441
Douglas DC-6
Lockheed Electra II
Convair 990A
Douglas DC-8-33
Boeing 707-320
HS-748 "Avro"
Boeing 727-100
Boeing 737-200
Douglas DC-10-30
Airbus A300B4
Boeing 747-200
Boeing 747-300
Boeing 767-200ER
Boeing 737-300
Boeing 767-300ER
Boeing 747-400
Boeing 737-700
Boeing 737-800
Boeing 777-200ER
Boeing 757-200






Varig Group
Fundação Ruben Berta
Ícaro Brasil
Rio Sul e Nordeste
Varig Cargo e Varig Log
Varig VEM


70's and 80's
90's e 2000's




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