October 19, 2021

Viação Aérea Rio-Grandense, better known as Varig, was a Brazilian airline founded in 1927, in the city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, by the German Otto Ernst Meyer. It was one of the first Brazilian airlines. Between the 1960s and 1980s, Varig was one of the largest and best known private airlines in the world, being compared several times with Pan American World Airways, the largest airline in the world at the time. The company was known for its inflight service in all three classes. At that time, Varig operated international routes to America, Europe, Africa and Asia, initially using the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-6, later the Boeing 707 and Sud Aviation Caravelle and finally with the Douglas DC-10 and Boeing 747. On July 20, 2006, after having filed for judicial recovery, its structural and financially sound part was sold to Varig Logística through the constitution of the corporate name VRG Linhas Aéreas, which, on April 9, 2007 was transferred for Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes. Due to the fact that it cannot operate flights under its own brand, the Ruben Berta Foundation, the company's administrator, created the brand Flex Linhas Aéreas, which operated regular flights commissioned by Gol, but was declared bankrupt on the same day as the decree of the Varig's bankruptcy.



Varig was founded on May 7, 1927, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, by the German immigrant Otto Ernst Meyer, together with several German-Brazilian personalities from the state, such as Alberto Bins, Artur Bromberg, Waldemar Bromberg, Emílio Gertum , Jorge Pfeiffer, Ernst Rotermund and Rudolph Ahrons. The German company Condor Syndikat, currently Lufthansa, owned 21% of Varig's shares. Its first aircraft was a Dornier Do J seaplane, nicknamed Atlântico, with a capacity of nine passengers, considered one of the most modern of its time, which made its flight from Porto Alegre to Rio Grande. It also operated the Dornier Komet, from Ilha Grande dos Marinheiros, on the Guaíba River, serving the southern and southeastern regions of Brazil. In 1932, it acquired its first plane with landing gear, a Junkers A-50 Junior, and later the Junkers F.13, starting its services in the state capital, on the land that would give rise to the Porto Alegre International Airport. 1920 and the beginning of the 1940s, Varig, which until then operated only regional routes, began to expand its operations to the Midwest and part of the Northeast region as well. At that time the company was commanded by Ruben Berta.


In August 1942 Varig made its first international flight, connecting Porto Alegre to Montevideo, using a De Havilland DH-89 Dragon Rapide. From 1946 onwards, it had its greatest expansion ever. With the end of World War II, planes were found at very low prices in the market, when it acquired important equipment, such as the Douglas DC-3 and the Curtiss C-46. The first ones arrived in 1946 and operated until the 1970s, without suffering any accident or serious incident. These planes allowed Varig to expand rapidly, even operating routes to remote airfields in the northeast region. New York with stops in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belém and Santo Domingo. These aircraft operated until the 1960s, when they were replaced by Boeing 707s.

Age of jets

In 1959 the first commercial jets in aviation history, Sud Aviation Caravelle, entered into operation by Varig and were used on routes to New York. In 1960, they were replaced by Boeing 707, one of the models that most contributed to the company's growth, with twenty aircraft

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