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In April 1980 Hélio Smidt becomes the new VARIG’s president, which under his command, expanded even more its domestic and international network, but focusing in Brazil’s interior cities. Hélio Smidt also assured fleet modernization with Boeing 737, 747 and 767. He led the company into an extremely dynamic philosophy and gave much value to man and teamwork. VARIG lost some of its brightness when Helio Smidt gone, in April 1990.

On February 12, 1981 VARIG acquired its first Jumbo jet. The three Boeing 747-200 initially operated on Rio de Janeiro - New York route and was an immediate hit among passengers. So years later, in 1985, VARIG acquired two more units, this time Boeing 747-300.

In 1987 VARIG received the new generation wide-body jets Boeing 767-200ER. VARIG was the first airline in the world to operate B767 equipped with General Electric engines. The following year fleet modernization arrived on domestic routes, with the first Boeing 737-300. They became the main aircraft for short and medium range flights, including the replacement of Electra II in Rio de Janeiro - São Paulo route.


Ceremony for the two first Boeing 747

VARIG's Cartering / Boeing 747-200


How was fly in the 80s:

The glamor of the 60s and 70s began to lose some brightness with the "low cost, low fare" airlines. The economy class was the one that lost more services, but it still were abundant and hot food and drinks such wine and whiskey. However, the glamor in First Class still intact. Was in the 80s that the Executive Class become something common in international flights.



4xAirbus A300B4

4xBoeing 707-300
5xBoeing 707-300F
13xBoeing 727-100
2xBoeing 727-100F
18xBoeing 737-200
4xBoeing 737-300
3xBoeing 747-200
2xBoeing 747-300
4xBoeing 767-200ER
10xDouglas DC-10-30
2xDouglas DC-10-30F

14xLockheed L188 ElectraII

Passengers: 142 million (average 14,21 million per year)

Hélio Smidt

Domestic destinations:
43 cities

International destinations:
Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Asuncion, Santa Cruz de La Sierra, La Paz, Lima, Bogotá, Caracas, Quito, Guayaquil, Cayenne, Paramaribo, Panamá, São José, México, Port of Spain, Bridgetown, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Lisbon, Oporto, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Roma, Milan, Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich, London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Luanda, Abidjan, Lagos, Maputo, Tokyo





                              FOCUS: Varig and Cruzeiro flying together

In 1975 Varig bought Cruzeiro and started to dominate 100% of international market. Thenceforth VARIG and Cruzeiro flew together until 90s, when Cruzeiro brand finally disappeared. But these two airlines shared many more things, even before the purchase.
VARIG was the first airline of Brazil, founded in May 1927 and started operations through Condor Syndikat, who rented Dornier Wal - VARIG's first aircraft. Cruzeiro was the second airline of Brazil, founded in December 1927 as Condor Syndikat subsidiary and operated VARIG's Dornier Wal, after Condor Syndikat take it back. Also, both had German origins and their stories were closely linked. While VARIG remained as a regional airline, Cruzeiro grew and become the second most important airline in Brazil, with flights throughout Brazil and various destinations in South America.
On October 2, 1947 Cruzeiro received authorization to fly to the USA (New York and Washington) and received three Douglas DC-4 to operate the route. The company even made some test flights but wanted  Brazilian government's help. The government did not accept Cruzeiro give up to operate the route. Who won the route was VARIG, in 1952. So VARIG ordered Lockheed Super G Constellation and began flights to New York in June 1955, no longer a regional airline. In 1961 VARIG bought Real-Aerovias-Nacional and in 1965 gained Panair do Brazil's international to Europe, becoming the largest airline in Latin America. Meanwhile Cruzeiro was the third largest in Brazil, behind VARIG and VASP. Beyond that Cruzeiro and VARIG were the only with international routes, which helped a lot financially, as they  received in dollars, a protection against currency fluctuations.
In 1964 started the military regime in Brazil and the aviation market was fully controlled by government. After the oil shock in 1973, airlines worldwide went into financial difficulties. In Brazil the government thought that were too many airlines and should be only two airlines. The government encourage VASP to purchase Cruzeiro and Transbrasil and thus divide the market between Varig (60%) and VASP (40%).
While negotiations between VASP and Cruzeiro continued, VARIG was buying shares of Cruzeiro. Ultimately Cruzeiro had two proposals: VASP with $60 million and VARIG with $80 million. Besides offered a higher value, VARIG had already about 30% of Cruzeiro share.
On 22 May 1975 Cruzeiro's president announced the sale to Fundação Ruben Berta  (VARIG's owner). Vasp reaction was immediate, claiming for redistribution of routes. In the end Brazilian government announced that would not intervene and the important was to reduce the number of airlines. The government also continued to encourage the merger between VASP and Transbrasil, which never happened.
After the purchase VARIG said that Cruzeiro brand would continue operating, but Cruzeiro's fleet was significantly reduced. Cruzeiro's fleet stagnated with eight Boeing 727-100 and six Boeing 737-200. VARIG also use Cruzeiro brand to test new products and services, as  Airbus A300B4. The A300 made great success among the passengers and VARIG also started to operate A300. In December 1982, Cruzeiro also test Douglas DC-9-80 (or MD-80). McDonnell Douglas expected that VARIG liked the aircraft and ordered a fleet to operate domestic and South American routes. VARIG enjoy MD-80, but chose to order only Boeing 737. The MD-80 was returned in 1983.
During 80s and early 90s the Boeing 727-100 were gradually being phased out. The A300B4 were deactivated in 1989. In 1992 Cruzeiro's fleet was only six Boeing 737-200. On January 1, 1993 Cruzeiro officially ceased, but its aircraft could be seen until 1997, when the last Boeing 737-200 was painted in VARIG colors.






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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