The situation at Varig Brazilian Airlines has deteriorated substantially, today, June 21. For lack of payment the company has been expelled from IATA and without enough planes, it has cancelled flights indefinitely to 11 international destinations including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Paris and Munich.
The expulsion from IATA (International Air Transport Association) the international governing body that regulates air transport means that people holding a Varig ticket will not be able to simply use another company to fly. IATA acts as a clearing house guaranteeing that the airline that transports the passenger gets the money for it.
Domestically Varig is also suspending most of its flights. 73.7% of all flights leaving from São Paulo and Rio’s four mains airports have been cancelled today. 28 of the 38 flights scheduled to leave this morning from Santos Dumont and Galeão (Rio) and Congonhas and Cumbica (São Paulo) were cancelled, according to Infraero, the company the manages Brazilian airports. Varig does not comment on these numbers.
According to Varig itself, the only international flights maintained are those where there is more demand and they can make more money. They are for Caracas (daily), Buenos Aires (four daily flights), Santiago del Chile (daily), Lima (one), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (one), London (one), Miami (one), Munich (two daily flights).
The international flights suspended are for Assunción, Bogota, Montevideo. Mexico City, Madrid, Munich, Milan, Paris, Los Angeles, Miami and New York.
The ANAC (National Agency of Civilian Aviation) has prepared a contingency plan by which other airlines are supposed to carry those Varig passengers whose flights are cancelled. TAM and Gol are already taking in all the domestic passengers. But it is still not defined how they will be reimbursed for this service.
As for the international flights the ANAC hopes foreign airlines will honor the code-sharing agreements to transport stranded passengers.
With 5,000 Brazilians is Germany for the World Cup they are the main concern of the agency. It’s estimated that close to half of them hold a Varig ticket. Brazil expects that Lufthansa will bring Brazilians back home when Varig goes belly up.