Flying to Brazil (São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro) from North America or Europe usually takes around 12 hours. Whilst cheap flights to Brazil don't yet exist it is normally easy to get an overnight flight. Due to a limited number of flights and a large Brazilian expatriate population expect to book in advance by several months to get the best deal.
Varig (website) is Brazil's flag carrier, Tam (website) is their Brazilian rival and Gol along with Ocean Air, Web Jet and BRA are Brazil's low cost carriers. Brazil's internal aviation market is deregulated so if you travel on Gol (website), Ocean Air (website), Web Jet (website), or Azul (website) there are cheap air fares to be had within Brazil, though you'll need to pay on line with an American Express card with Gol. International flights to and from Brazil are governed with bi-lateral treaties.
Flying down to Rio
The cheapest city from which you can fly to Brazil is Miami. Other North American cities with direct connections are: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Mexico City. From Asia there are direct flights from Tokyo and Osaka both via L.A. and Beijing via Madrid. The Middle East has one direct flight from Dubai to São Paulo. From Africa you can fly direct from Johannesburg, Luanda and Dakar. From Europe you can fly from London, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Milan, Madrid, Helsinki, Istanbul and Lisbon. Lisbon has the most choice of direct flights to Brazil. They are São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro plus: Belo Horizonte, Forteleza, Natal, Recife, Salvador and Brasília. All the South America capitals have direct flights to São Paulo, Rio or both. If you are planning a round-the-world trip or trans-America journey it's also worth noting that you can fly from Buenos Aires to Salvador or Florianópolis and from Miami, Bogotá and Caracas to Manaus. If you are traveling a bit further from the beaten track you can fly from Rosario (in Argentina) to Brasília and for the seriously adventurous there is a flight on Angolan Airways between Rio de Janeiro and Luanda !
11th July 2010 - New European Routes from T.A.M.
Brazil’s flag carrying airline T.A.M. (Trans Airlines Mercosul) is planning two new routes out of Rio de Janeiro’s international airport Galeão.
The schedule is expected to be 3 weekly flights between Rio’s Galeão and London’s Heathrow airport and 5 weekly flights between Rio and Frankfurt’s Flughafen airport. The Rio Frankfurt route is due to begin in August and the Rio London route in September. Both routes will be red eye overnight flights.
The Rio London route has departure days of Monday, Wednesday and Friday and returns to Rio from London the flowing day. The Frankfurt route is going to be code shared with Lufthansa. Both of these routes will be daily from 2011 when new airplanes will be delivered to T.A.M. The introduction of the Rio London route has effectively doubled the flight capacity between these two cities as previously only British Airways offered a London Rio connection.
T.A.M. is going to use Airbus A330-200 planes on both of these routes. This is the short fuselage version of the A330 and carries between 253 and 293 passengers depending on cabin class configuration.
19th November 2009 - Brazil's latest Plane Purchase.
This month’s Brazil flights blog has a military angle rather than the usual tourist slant. During a September visit to Brazil by France’s President Sarkozy President Lula announced that Dassault had all but won a 3 way bidding war against Boeing and Saab to provide Brazil with the Rafale fighter plane. This is an exciting development for the Brazilian Aerospace industry as Embraer will receive substantial technology transfer due to parts of the Rafale being built in Brazil. The deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale is worth 4 billion Euros ! Whilst loosing an order for the F18 Super Hornet is not a set back for Boeing, demand being assured from the US military, the loss to Saab is substantial as the long term viability of their Grippen aircraft is much more dependant on winning foreign orders. Saab had offered full technology transfer and the possibility of building the Grippen in Brazil but even this wasn't enough to win the contract. It seams the French were able to seal the deal by offering to buy Embraer's KC-390 transport plane. The Rafale is a 4th generation fighter plane with a maximum speed of Mach 2 and a range of 3,700km. Sadly you can't fly on one to Brazil.
18th October 2009 - Flights From New York to São Paulo, The Bankers Flight.
Those of you who follow the financial news will know all about the rise of the Brazilian currency, the Real and it’s stock market the Ibovespa. But if your into banking and in need of a business trip from New York to Brazil’s financial center in São Paulo what exactly are your options ? You’ll be pleased to know this is one of the few well served routes flying to São Paulo. It’s a 10 hour 4,758 mile (7,657 km) flight if you fly direct. If you are a New York based banker then a direct flight is what it will be and you can choose from Continental or TAM, Brazil’s flag carrying airline. Each airline only currently offers 1 flight per day. The TAM flight is a day flight departing at 08:25 and Continental a night flight leaving at 22:00. If you are flying to São Paulo for the first time it’s probably better to arrive mid morning on the Continental than late evening on the TAM. A business class airfare will cost you upwards of USD 3,600 return. If you're not in need of a direct business flight and want to do a multi stop to take in other destinations your route options open up dramatically. Not only could you have a few days in Houston, Miami, D.C. or Chicago but you can put more Latin American capitals like Mexico City, Santiago or Caracas into your journey. A standard class New York São Paulo return starts from USD 760.
19th September 2009 - Turkish Delight ! São Paulo to Istanbul
Ever fancied a trans-African epic with your flight to Brazil ?! Turkish Airlines have introduced a very exciting Istanbul São Paulo route with an African stop in Dakar (Senegal). The best news about this route is that 3 flights a week are offered and you can buy a return for either or the two destinations. That is to say return flights are available (in either direction) from São Paulo to Dakar or you can go all the way to Istanbul and back ! Turkish Airlines website: www.turkishairlines.com will quote you prices in the local currency of the country you start in so people in Senegal, and Turkey will get there flights quoted in Central African Francs, or Turkish Lira. Flight times for São Paulo to Dakar are around 7 hours. From São Paulo to Istanbul it's a 14 hour epic ! Hopefully they'll let you stretch your legs at Dakar airport ! Turkish Airlines fly the Airbus A340-300 on their São Paulo Istanbul route. Prices start at BRL 1,800 return from São Paulo to Istanbul and from BRL 2,000 for a São Paulo Dakar return.
19th August 2009 - Houston to Rio de Janeiro, The oil drillers flight.
As you have probably read in the news in the last year Brazil has a newly discovered deep water oil strike that is estimated to hold between 5 - 8 billions barrels of oil. Petrobras, the Brazilian state controlled oil company has developed the technology to extract the oil from underneath 7000 meters of water, rock and salt. An oil driller is one of the few genuine ex-patriot jobs you can get in Brazil so you'll need to fly from Rio to Houston at some point ! Here's how. Your choices are limited to two airlines: Continental and American Airlines, but there is only one direct flight and that is the Continental. The American Airlines flight is via Miami and then there are variations you can have within the 'States so be careful you don't end up with 4 stop 20 hour flight just to save $50 ! Our choice would have to be the Continental flight no. 128 / 129 as it's an overnight direct 10 hour flight, which sounds like at least 7 hours sleep in our noise canceling headphones ! Look to pay upwards of USD 880 for a Houston Rio de Janeiro Return.
18th July 2009 - Fly from Tokyo to São Paulo. The 2009 Grand Prix flight.
The Brazilian Grand Prix held in São Paulo starts on the Friday 16th October. The preceding race in Tokyo ends on Sunday 4th so the good news is that you have 12 traveling days from Monday 5th October to Thursday 15th to complete it. The bad news about this flight is that Tokyo and São Paulo are on opposite sides of the planet so this is about as long haul as it’s going to get ! The only direct flight is on Japan Airlines via Los Angeles, but do you really want to spend 25 hours on an airplane ? The jet lag would be horrific ! The direct option is not very cost effective either considering that if you break the flight up via North America there are one way tickets for around USD750. All trans Pacific flights involve crossing the international date line and the day you cross it will get doubled up. If you haven’t been to the Pacific Islands this would be a great opportunity to purchase a multi stop ticket and see some of them. It’s an expensive way to avoid jet lag but there is only one Tahiti….
19th June 2009 - Information Requests: Fly from Katmandu to Ouro Preto.
Regular users of this site will know that we offer a free of charge flights to Brazil email answer service. We were recently asked how to get from Katmandu to Ouro Preto. We discovered our research just know this sort of thing off the top of their heads ! Here’s what they had to say:
“As we’re sure you already know you can’t fly from Kathmandu to Ouro Preto. Additonally Ouro Preto doesn’t have an airport but it’s only 60km from Belo Horizonte which is Brazil’s 3rd city, and that has an international and a domestic airport. However you choose to fly to Brazil you are looking at a multi stop journey.
If you fly via Dubai or most European capitals you’re entry point will be São Paulo. You’ll then need to take an internal flight on a Brazilian airline to Belo Horizonte. If you fly to Lisbon in Portugal you can fly directly to Belo Horizonte at certain times of the year.
Once in Belo Horizonte the airport transfer bus will drop you off in central Belo then you’ll need to go to the bus station (named Rodoviaria in Brazilian cities) and take a bus to Ouro Preto. You could just grab a cab from the airport direct to Ouro Preto but you’ll be looking at a USD150 cab fare !
We put Kathmandu to Belo Horizonte into Expedia’s search engine and we got some crazy flight combo’s back via Seoul costing over USD 10,000 return. We split the route to fly Katmandu to Lisbon and then Lisbon to Belo Horizonte and got quotes for around USD 3,800 return with flight times of about 33 hours not including stopovers.”
And all for free ! We’re so nice.
19th May 2009 - Ocean Air.
In this months blog we're going to take a closer look at one of Brazil's smaller airlines, OceanAir. Founded in 1998 originally as an air taxi firm OceanAir are full service airline covering all of Brazil. Whilst they don't have the range of destinations of TAM or Gol they do fly to some of the more off beat destinations such as Passo Fundo in Rio Grande do Sul and Chapeco in Santa Catarina. The distinguishing feature of OceanAir is that it is hubbed at Rio Santos Dumont and offers 14 destinations from this airport. OceanAir also competes on the Rio Santos Dumont Sao Paulo Congonhas shuttle service against TAM and Gol. OceanAir still offer an air taxi service. We think you'll be hearing a lot more about OceanAir in the future as they will be the first Brazilian airline to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which should be in service by 2010. The aquisition of the Dreamliners will allow OceanAir to expand it's routes and there are planes to begin services to Mexico, Colombia, Africa and the United States. Flights on OceanAir for the Rio / Sao Paulo shuttle start from R$270 each way. A Santos Dumont Chapeco return is R$525. A Santos Dumont Manaus return is currently only R$493 ! Due to the global economic slow down internal flights in Brazil have got a lot cheaper.
17th April 2009 - Flights to Foz do Iguaçu.
We often get asked about the best why to fly to Iguaçu so we decided it was high time to write about it ! Foz do Iguaçu is home of Iguaçu Falls and is a poplar year round tourist destination on the Brazil / Argentina / Paraguay border. Currently you can only fly directly to Iguaçu from within Brazil. Those cities which you can fly directly from are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, the Parana state capital. There are no plane changes available from Brasília, Belém, Macapá, Manaus, Salvador, and Recife. Only two airlines operate flights to Iguaçu, Brazil’s #1 and 2 airlines TAM and Gol. The TAM tickets are easier to get hold of as foreigners can buy them on their website (Gol’s site doesn’t take non Brazilian credit cards) and TAM tickets can be bought from major travel sites like Expedia. As there is a flights duopoly, flying to Iguaçu is not bargain basement given it’s only a 2 hour flight from Rio. A normal priced return is around USD600. Theholidayinbrazil.com flights blogspot is now 3 years old !
18th March 2009 - Charter a plane in Brazil.
Chartering your own plane in Brazil may seem excessive. But depending on the size of your traveling group it can actually save you some cash. Obviously chartering a plane is not competitive against the cheapest airfares going. You'll find the break even point is around 4 or more full price airfares. Another advantage is a point to point direct flight. One of Brazil’s largest plane charters is Lider Aviação. They fly charters out of all Brazil’s main airports and several of the smaller ones like Aeroporto de Jacarepaguá at Barra in Rio. Lider will fly you on your choice of a Hawker 800, BeechJet 400A, Learjet 35A or an King Air C90. If you are flying around the São Paulo, Rio, Belo Horizonte triangle they can usually have a plane ready on the tarmac within an hour.
15th February 2009 - Don’t take your clothes off in Brazilian Airports !
Not that we need to tell the discerning readers of theholidayinbrazil.com flights blog, but obviously someone hasn’t been reading our flights info ! On February 6th two German tourists were detained for swapping and changing their clothes in front of other passengers at Salvador international airport whilst awaiting their return flight to Germany . The Federal Police (Polícia Federal) accused them of public obscenity, a charge which carries a 1 year prison sentence if convicted. There defense was that they thought it “normal” to change clothes like that in Brazil ! How wrong can you be ?! They obviously hadn’t realised that Brazil is a conservative catholic country and antics such as being naked in public will get you in a lot of trouble very quickly. After two hours of questioning the tourist were allowed to go on there way but had to sign a document promising to return to Brazil if requested by the Federal Police. And remember, should you find yourself needing to change clothes at a Brazilian airport, use the restrooms ! Full story
19th January 2009 - Azul Airlines.
Brazil’s newest Airline is Azul. They flew their inaugural flight from Campinas in São Paulo state to Salvador Bahia on 15th Dec 2008. Pitching themselves as a budget airline they are founded by JetBlue’s very own David Neelman. Taking the radical step of basing Azul in Campinas they offer cheap fares to Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Salvador and Vitoria. With one way flights from R$129 value has arrived to the Brazilian skies ! For those of you who don’t know, Campinas is a city of around 1 million people about 100 km from São Paulo. Azul have pulled off a neat trick by linking Campinas airport with a free shuttle bus to Villa Lobos Shopping (Avenida Nações Unidas, Alto de Pinheiros) in central São Paulo. The coach transfer is 1.5 hours which at first appears a long time, but if you’ve ever transferred from São Paulo Gaurulhos or Congonhas you’ll understand this isn’t really a hardship. Azul is an all Brazilian airline flying only Embraer 195’s which are both brand new and the only Brazilian domestic fleet with seat back monitors for entertainment system. Azul’s expansion plans are to fly to all the principle cites of Brazil on a fleet of 42 Embraer jets by 2012.
19th December 2008 - Some General Notes on Flying around Brazil.
You’ll be pleased to know that flying around Brazil is as easy (or as difficult ! ) as flying around continental Europe or the USA. It’s important to remember that only about 20% of Brazilians have an advanced economy life style and the majority of those live in Rio, São Paulo and the southern states of Brazil. For this reason it’s cheap and easy to fly around the South and South East of Brazil, it gets much more expensive and inconvenient to fly in between the regional airports as most flights hub in São Paulo. Flying from São Paulo to anywhere in Brazil is very easy. A trip such as Uberlandia to Teresina is virtually unheard of and you’ll have to go through São Paulo and or Brasília to complete this kind of trip. It tends to be difficult for foreigners visiting Brazil to get the really cheap internal flight special offers. This is because on the airlines websites you need a Brazilian issued credit card to make a purchase and booking in advance through a foreign travel agent in our experience is always more expensive than buying a ticket at the flight desk in the airport a couple of days in advance. Be aware that when flying to the North East most of the flights stop at each city. There are also direct flights from São Paulo and Rio but they are less frequent and cost a lot more. The experience of flying in Brazil is generally highly enjoyable as Brazilians take a lot of pride in their aviation and, whilst not well know outside of Brazil, they have their own aviation history and pedigree as Brazil is home to the world’s 3rd largest plane manufacturer.
18th November 2008 - Do I need my Passport for internal flights in Brazil ?
The quick answer to the above question is yes. But if you forget your passport can you still fly internally if you take the chance ? We're always looking for an excuse to go flying so whilst the debate withinholidayinbrazil.com research raged we sent our man in Rio to visit some amigos. Packing a plastification copy of his passport and the genuine article he flew from Rio Santos Dumont to São Paulo Congonhas and then back to Rio Galeão and then on to Recife and finally to complete his mission back to Rio Galeão on an a 4 A.M. departure. At each airport at the check in desk he presented the copy of his passport and waited to be asked to present the original version. On each flight he was asked for his original passport with the exception of the 4 A.M. departure from Recife, and that was with the supervisor looking over the shoulder of the check in desk assistant. But it was 4 o'clock in the morning ! For the record it's a legal requirement from ANAC, the Brazilian air traffic regulator, to show your original documents before traveling and there are occasionally notices in the airports informing you of the fact.
18th October 2008 - American Airlines New Flights to Brazil.
Hurray for American Airlines ! They are launching new routes to Brazil and increasing their existing flight service. Four weekly nonstops between New York City and Rio de Janeiro are being added along with new flights to Belo Horizonte, Savlador and Recife from Miami. The New York Rio flights will operate Dec 19th 2008 to Feb 28th 2009, using widebody Boeing 767-300 aircraft configured with 30 seats in Business Class and 195 seats in the Main Cabin. Additionally American will operate a fourth daily nonstop flight between Miami and São Paulo from Dec 18th 2008, to Jan 30th 2009. Lastly American plans to operate one additional weekly flight between Miami and Belo Horizonte from Dec 21st 2008 to Feb 23rd 2009 with a Boeing 767-300. Service to Belo Horizonte (a new destination for American) starts Nov. 4 with three weekly flights. The service will increase to four per week for the winter travel season. The Miami Salvador and Miami Recife daily service starts on 4th Nov. An American Airlines Miami São Paulo return airfare starts from around $1000. Their full service is summerised below.
American Airlines Brazil Service Summary
Rio de Janeiro - Miami, New York JFK
São Paulo - Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York JFK
Belo Horizonte - Miami
Recife - Miami
Salvador - Miami
18th September 2008 - Brazil's Best Connected Airline.
For those of you who are regular travelers to Brazil, you won’t be surprised to learn that the airline with the largest choice of Brazilian cities with international connections isn’t actually Brazilian ! The prize for best connected airline goes to TAP Air Portugal with 7 Brazilian cities with direct flights to Lisbon. Those cities are Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Recife, Natal and Fortaleza. We like TAP and have flown with them a few times, they're a nice airline. On one flight the hostesses were even kind enough to sit one of our guys in a crew seat when he was travel sick ! The frequency of flights is pretty good to. There are daily departures to Rio, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza. And there are four flights a week to Natal and Belo Horizonte. Sadly TAP isn't all sweetness when it comes to the prices ! Their cheapest Sao Paulo returns weigh in around EUR 750 and the Recife, Natal and Fortaleza flights start at a hefty EUR 1,016. It's easier to find cheaper flights to Brazil's North East on charter flights. To Brazil TAP fly Airbus A310, A330 and A340 type aircraft.
17th August 2008 - TAM Airlines Ticket Types.
TAM is Brazil's largest airline and their ticketing system has 5 different price levels. They are displayed on their website as Promo, Light, Flex, Max and Top. Each category has different conditions attached for cancellation fees, excess baggage and access to the TAM airport lounges. The difference between the Promo to Top is significant. For example on a one way flight from Rio Galeão to Recife prices start at R$319.50 for the Promo to R$1,249.50 for the Top. You'll be pleased to know that the Promo fare does have a refundable value of the lowest out of USD 50 or 60% of the fare value and if you want to change flight then that same formula applies to the change fee. The Top ticket is really designed for business travelers as there no fees for changing flights, however it's worth noting that you currently get an extra 20kg extra baggage allowance and the Top fare category has a 50% discount for children under 12. From our experience to get a Promo priced ticket you'll need to book at least 3 months in advance. The Promo tickets are usual better value than Gol or Varig but once you're into the Light, Flex and Max tickets it pays to start shopping around.
19th July 2008 - Flight Review: Porto Seguro to São Paulo.
Porto Seguro is Brazil's answer to Key West or Ibiza. It's a resort town with over 25 resorts and hundreds of smaller hotels and inns. This is where the history of Brazil started in 1500 with the arrival of Pedro Cabral. Thankfully it's one of the best connected places in Brazil. All of Brazil's main airlines fly here and if you are flexible on the departure day you can avoid annoying double back flights via Salvador or São Paulo. If you fly direct it's a two hour flight from Porto Seguro to São Paulo and TAM has one direct flight per day currently at 12:00.The flights at 01:20 in the morning and 17:55 make stops so the journey time increases to around 4 hours ! And they are the same price ! We took the direct flight. TAM is a full service airline so you get food and drinks included in the ticket. The domestic flights don't have seat back monitors but there are fold down LCD panels showing the news and popular Brazilian TV programs. There are 5 ticket types available on all TAM flights. Currently the cheapest Porto Seguro / São Paulo airfare on TAM (not counting a promotional price) is R$420 one way.
16th June 2008 - Fly Shanghai to São Paulo. The Formula 1 Flight.
For those traveling following the Formula 1circuit you're going to need to fly from Shanghai China to São Paulo Brazil at the end of October. There are several ways to approach this journey. Brazil is diametrically opposite China on the globe and in November has a minus 9 hour time gap. The most direct route is 11,600 miles or 18,650 km ! Get ready for an epic journey ! The first point to consider is that there isn't a direct Shanghai to São Paulo flight, though Air China flies direct from Beijing. If you take the Beijing route you'll have 3 days to get there for the 01:00 departure on the morning of the 23rd October. It's a punishing 25 hour flight to São Paulo with a refueling stop in Madrid. Our preferred option would be to fly from Shanghai to São Paulo with a longer stop over, or a multi stop. The quickest route is on Lufthansa via Frankfurt at 27 hours. If you fly via London, Paris or Dubai the total journey time is around 29.5 hours. All of these flights require hanging around in the connecting airport for 5 or 6 hours, which is not so fun. The final option would be to take a multi stop. Given the location and distance an east or west trip is equally possible so the main limits here are your financial resource and imagination. The Shanghai Grand Prix is on 19th of October so you have 11 traveling days to get to São Paulo for the start on the 31st. A multi stop would be our choice to break up the time zone readjustment and the journey length. One way flights from Shanghai to São Paulo start at around USD 1,700.
18th May 2008 - A New Airline for Brazil.
A new domestic airline has recently announced plans to start flights within Brazil and is going to pitch itself against TAM and GOL, two established rivals. Azul Airlines will start schedule flights in 2009. Azul Airlines is the brain child of David Neelman, a dual US / Brazil citizen and founder of the American no-frills carrier JetBlue Airways. Azul Airlines will take to the skies in Brazil's very own Embraer E-195 jets. 36 leather seated aircraft are already on order. Azul Airlines target market is the 150 million Brazilian's who travel by long distance bus or don't travel at all. With only around 5% of the Brazilian public flying, it looks like there could be plenty of demand to be tapped, though 92 % of the internal aviation market in Brazil is dominated by just two airlines: TAM and GOL. David Neelman will bring extensive expertise to the domestic Brazilian market which has been growing at 15 percent a year since 2004. Backed with USD 150 million Azul Airlines will be based in São Paulo.
17th April 2008 - Brazil Flights Blog 2nd Birthday: Make your airfare back flying to Brazil.
Flying to Brazil is never a cheap affair. When you pay out in the region of USD 1,400 for a flight it's always good to know what pricing arbitrage opportunities exist between your home country and Brazil. Anyone who's spent a while in Brazil will tell you that electronics, imported goods and luxury imported goods are very expensive due to import taxes that can reach 100% ! Most Brazilians who purchase goods in addition to their staple needs do so on purchase plans over 3, 6 or 12 months due to the elevated cost. Consider an Xbox360. In Brazil they retail for around R$2,500 ! That's USD 1,500 for a product you can pick up at Wal Mart for around USD 400. If you put a couple of those in your bag you'll be well on your way to make your airfare back by selling them on the Brazilian black market. European's wanting to try this gambit should remember that Brazil's TV standard is NTSC and they use the American style flat 2 pin plug. Other products you might want to consider are the medium to high end digital SLR cameras, associated SLR lenses and brand name trainers. For the return trip pack some Brazilian designer jewelry and executive leather briefcases and your holiday in brazil could become very profitable. Please note that the Brazilian tax authorities (Recieta Federal) usually just stop Brazilians and search their bags for imported goods whilst waving tourists through at customs. That said if you do get stopped and it looks like you're abusing the system expect to have taxes applied.
18th March 2008 - Fly from India to Brazil.
According to Alexa.com over 15% of holidayinbrazil.com's traffic comes from India ! So, in response to that, this month we going to take a look at flying from India to Brazil. As two of the four largest emerging markets (BRIC), trade between Brazil and India has increase dramatically and both countries aim to have bi-latteral trade of USD 10 billion by 2010. Despite that, there are still no direct flights between India and Brazil. For this blog we're going to look at flying from Mumbai to São Paulo. The most direct journey is via Dubai, though you can also fly via Johannesburg or various European capitals. On all three routes journey times are around 24 hours including the connection wait. At current prices you can expect to pay upwards of USD 1800 / BRL 3180 or INR 75,200 for a Mumbai São Paulo return.
19th February 2008 - A brief History of Varig. Brazil's Flag Carrier.
Varig (Viação Aérea RIo Grandense) was founded on 27th May 1927 in Porto Alegre, south Brazil. It's first flight was from Porto Alegre to Rio Grande via Pelotas in a Dornier Wal flying boat. Vairg enjoyed a steady rise to fame and fortune over the following forty years as it added it's first international route to Montevideo in August 1942 and eventually became Brazil's flag carrying airline in February 1965 when the Brazilian Military dictatorship closed Panair do Brasil. Varig held the title of Brazil's largest airline until June 2005, though to this day Varig still remains Brazil's flag carrier. Varig's achilles heal was its ownership structure. From 1945 to 2006 Varig was majority owned by the not for profit Ruben Berta Foundation. Years of bad management took its toll and in June 2005 Varig entered the Brazilian equivalent of chapter 11 bankruptcy. Varig continued to fly but with failed sales auctions and aircraft being impounded the loses continued to mount and at its nadir Varig was loosing USD 20 million a month. After a financial re-organisation and an unsuccessful attempt by LAN Chile to purchase 20% of the company in early 2007 the Varig brand and remaining assets was bought by GOL (Brazil's most successful airline) for USD 320 million. Varig still operates an international and domestic schedule, but the company's size is greatly reduced from Varig's heyday in the 1960's when it could rightly claim to be the largest airline in Latin America. Varig flies internationally to Bogata, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Frankfurt, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris, Rome and Santiago.
18th January 2008 - Samba or Tango: Flights from Argentina to Brazil.
Tam Airbus A319
As Argentina is Brazil's neighbour and second largest trading partner it's no surprise to find an extensive selection of flights between the two countries. Varig, Tam, Gol and Aerolineas Argentinas dominate the schedules. From Buenos Aires you can fly to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro (Galeão), Salvador and Porto Alegre. Córdoba has flights to São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Port Alegre. Rosario has flights to Porto Alegre and Brasília. Aerolineas Argentinas have 3 daily departures to Buenos Aires from Rio Galeão. Varig and Tam fly Rio Galeão to Beunos Aires once a day. Gol flies to both Buenos Aires and Córdoba daily from Rio Galeão. There are no flights to Argentina from Rio Santos Dumont or São Paulo Congonhas. You can fly from Argetina to São Paulo Guarulhos 3 times a day on Aerolineas Argentinas. Varig also operate 3 daily flights from São Paulo Guarulhos to Beunos Aires. Tam fly the same route twice a day and Gol once. The Beunos Aires Porto Alegre route is operated once a day by Aerolineas Argentinas, Varig and Tam. Gol fly from Port Alegre to Córdoba and Rosario. Varig operate one flight a day from Florianópolis to Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires to Salvador flight is flown by TAM once a day. The Rosario to Brasília is operated by Gol. All of the flight schedules are available in real time on Infraero's website.
17th December 2007 - Flight review: TAP Air Portugal Porto to São Paulo.
TAP Air Portugal to São Paulo
To continue our flight review features we took a TAP Air Portugal flight from Porto to São Paulo on a schedule flight. TAP is unique in that they offer the widest range of direct destinations within Brazil of any airline. The TAP Porto São Paulo route is a daytime flight arriving in São Paulo around 18:30 local time. TAP also have a daytime flight from Lisbon to São Paulo. The price for this flight at € 840 was about par for the route. You can get to Brazil slightly cheaper, but it's easy to pay a lot more ! The in-flight entertainment system was modern in that there was a selection of programs, films and games but only in English and Portuguese. The air hosts on this flight were fantastic and were of great assistance to one of our guys who became travel sick ! They even gave him a crew seat to sit in. To Brazil TAP fly Airbus 350's and 360's .
18th November 2007 - Rio de Janeiro International Airport.
Rio Galeão Airport
With the Brazilian holiday season rapidly approaching we are going to take a detailed look at Rio's International Airport, code GIG. Named Galeão (or more recently Antonio Carlos Jobim), Rio's International Airport has joined a long list of major airports to change their name, only for people to keep with the old one ! Situated on it's own island (Ilha Governador) 15 km from Rio's South Zone (Zona Sul) the size of Galeão's infrastructure is a throw back to when Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil. Currently there are only 12 international arrivals per day as most of the international air traffic flys to São Paulo's Guarulhos, though the selection of domestic departures is extensive. Rio Galeão is a two terminal airport with the longest runway in Brazil (View Ariel map here). The selection of shops and restaurants is what you would expect for an airport of this size. For your airport transfer to central Rio you have 3 options. The first option is the red private hire "Trans-coop" taxis which are the most expensive. Secondly there are the yellow with blue stripe Taxi "commun" which are a bit cheaper. Thirdly, and our favourite option, you can can the Real Onibus airport transfer coach (Current price R$3.70 one way. Click here for route guide). In normal traffic it's a one hour journey to the South Zone by coach and about 30 minutes by taxi.
18th October 2007 - The French Connection. Flights to Brazil from France.
France is one of the few countries with good flight connections to Brazil and you can fly from multiple cities in France to Brazil. Not only does Air France offer two daily flights from Paris to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Boeing 747's but TAM and Varig have routes to. The TAM flights are perhaps the more interesting as there are two code share flights from Toulouse and Strasbourg which feed their daily overnight departure to São Paulo. Last but not least a resurgent Varig is also getting in on the France flights to Brazil action with a daily service from Paris to São Paulo. All this choice on the Paris Brazil air route add up to some of the best value Brazil flights from anywhere in Europe. It's common to find flights direct to São Paulo and Rio from Paris at least EUR 100 cheaper than a direct flight from London or Munich due to the extra competition on the route.
17th September 2007 - Flight review: Gol. São Paulo to Belo Horizonte.
For our second flight review we took a Gol afternoon flight from Congonhas in central São Paulo to Belo Horizonte Confins. All of Gol’s planes are Boeing 737 and whilst it’s a “low cost” carrier they still give you a drink and a snack on the plane which you don’t have to pay for. There isn’t any in-flight entertainment on Gol’s jets. It takes an hour and ten minutes to fly from São Paulo to Belo Horizonte and there are 4 Gol departures per day from São Paulo Congonhas. It’s an inland flight across the farming belt of Brazil. We paid R$265 each one way. Special offers are available for as low as R$1, but you'll need to book a LONG way in advance !
Next month we'll be taking a closer look at flying from France to Brazil.
16th August 2007 - First Flights to Brazil.
This month the holidayinbrazil.com research team has delved into some Brazil flights history to show you how it all started in the second quarter of last century. The first transatlantic flight to Brazil was flown by Captain Dieudonné and Lieutenant Commander Joseph le Brix. Starting in Saint Louis in Senegal on the 14th October 1927, flying a Bréguet 19 Nungesser-Coli, their historic flight touched down in Natal the next day. This was only five months after Charles Lindbergh's epic solo North Atlantic crossing. It is credit to the early pioneers of aviation that by 1931, just 4 years later, there was a non stop commercial passenger and mail service to Brazil. But it wasn't the Americans, English or French in the pilot's seat this time. The skies of the early 1930's were ruled by Germany's Graf Zepplins. These huge cigar shaped aircraft dominated the skys from Frankfurt to Recife, Rio and Buenos Aires until the late 30's. When Pan Am launched it's first Miami to Rio de Janeiro service in August 1934 they used the newly built Sikorsky S-42 flying boat. With up to 32 passengers and a wingspan of 130 feet the S42 was described as "The most beautiful aircraft of its time." Covering 12,000 miles and visiting 12 countries the all inclusive price was $865, about $13,000 in today's money ! (Both Pictures courtesy of BrazilBrazil.com)
Next month we're back in the air with a flight review from São Paulo to Belo Horizonte.
17th July 2007 - São Paulo Guarulhos Airport.
São Paulo Guarulhos Airport
Guarulhos airport is São Paulo's international airport and if you are flying to Brazil you will more than likely be arriving and departing from here. A lot of international flights to Rio also route through here. (The give away is the number of stops on your ticket). With only two terminals and a limited number of international departures it's not an airport that will faze the seasoned traveler or business executive. The two terminals are interconnected and you can walk the length of both terminal buildings comfortably in 20 minutes. The airport is zoned as Terminal 1 sections A and B, Terminal 2 sections C and D. (View Ariel and schematic map here) There are of course bars, shops, cash machines and duty free. We have noted a somewhat sneaky trick in the duty free after passport control. The currency of the merchandise changes from Brazilian Reais to US dollars ! USD 40 for a Brazil shirt is not such a bargain ! Guarulhos airport is 35 km north east of central São Paulo and there is no metro train connection. The official airport transfer service is called Airport Bus Service (website in English) and their office is on the right hand side as you exit (right) from the terminal building. They operate 16 different routes through São Paulo and the route to central the area terminates at Praça da República. The current fare is R$27. Airport Bus Service also operate a Guarulhos / Congonhas shuttle but if you are a TAM passenger the TAM shuttle is free when you show your boarding card.
17th June 2007 - Flight review: KLM London to São Paulo.
KLM to São Paulo
For our first flight review feature we are reporting on a flight we took from London to São Paulo on a KLM schedule flight via their hub at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. As the gateway cities to Brazil are limited most airlines will fly you via their hub airport. In this respect KLM is no different to other carriers and as such gives you a very wide range of starting points from KLM's feeder flights across Europe and the rest of the world. The KLM Amsterdam São Paulo route is a daytime flight arriving in São Paulo around 17:00 local time. We liked this flight for price, only £580 return, and the in-flight entertainment system. The entire cabin’s seats had TV’s and there was a large selection of films, music, video games and TV programs in a variety of languages. The handset doubled as a telephone and there was an email facility. Whilst this would be expected in Business and First Class, to discovery this in standard was very welcome. To Brazil KLM fly Boeing 777’s and 747’s.
19th May 2007- The Rio / São Paulo Shuttle.
The shuttle flights between Rio and São Paulo are operated by Gol, Tam and Varig. Brazil's other airlines do also fly this route but they don't have hourly departures.
On Gol you can fly from Santos Dumont in central Rio to Congonhas in central São Paulo, from Galieão (Rio's international airport) to Garulhos (São Paulo's) or Congonhas. Gol do not offer a Santos Dumont / Guarulhos flight. The Santos Dumont / Congonhas route flights start at 06:40 until 20:40 and there are 16 departures. On Gol's Galieão to Guarulhos route there are 7 daily departures starting at 03:30 to 22:45. On Gol's Galieão to Congonhas route there are 6 daily departures from 05:30 to 21:10. Expect to pay in the region of R$100 one way for any of these flights.
Tam flies a fuller schedule. On the Santos Dumont / Congonhas route there are 30 daily departures between 06:25 and 21:25. The Galieão / Guarulhos route has six flights per day from 07:00 to 22:00 and on the Galieão / Congonhas route there are 3 daily flights. Like Gol, Tam don’t offer a Santos Dumont / Guarulhos flight but they do have a shuttle bus between the two São Paulo airports which is free to use when you show your ticket. Unlike Gol, Tam is a full service airline and has tickets ranging from R$130 to R$610 one way.
Varig, Brazil's flag carrier, offers 21 daily departures on the Rio Santos Dumont / São Paulo Congonhas route between 6:20 and 21:35, and three daily flights from Rio Galieão to São Paulo Guarulhos. Prices are from R$105 to R$635 one way.
16th April 2007 - Why is flying to Brazil (still) so expensive ?
To celebrate the holidayinbrazil.com flight blog’s first birthday we’re going to re-visit the hottest question regards flying to Brazil and that is: Why does it cost so much ? At current prices flying from the States you don't see very much change from USD1000, and from Europe the price is around GBP 600 and EUR 850. All of the reasons we stipulated in our very first entry (read it here) are still valid, though there has been a slight softening of the regulatory environment in that more charter flights are available and new routes are in the pipeline. Scheduled routes have also increased with new flights direct to China and Angola.
Despite the recent air traffic control issues in Brazil an open skies initiative, similar to that struck between the USA and Europe, would be the fastest way to reduce the cost of flying to Brazil. A total deregulation of international air travel to Brazil would be even better a it would cut through the bureaucracy and demand from the considerable number of Brazilian expatriates and tourists could be met.
19th March 2007 - Hidden Routes to Brazil
Here at holidayinbrazil.com research we always like to bring you the off beat and this month we've tracked down flights information on three of the less traveled routes into Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. We're taking a closer look at flying from Toulouse and Strasbourg on Tam to Rio and São Paulo. And from Luanda on TAAG to Rio de Janeiro. The TAM flights are both a daily service that fly a shuttle into Charles de Gaulle airport and then on TAM's overnight Brazil service to either Rio or São Paulo. At current prices a Toulouse São Paulo return will cost you around EUR 1300. TAAG is Angola's national airline (website) and they operate a three times a week flight: Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, to Rio de Janeiro. TAAG fly the Luanda Rio route during the day or overnight on a Boeing 747 - just in case you were wondering ! The current Rio de Janeiro Luanda return price from TAAG is USD 980.
Next Month: The Brazil Flights Blog celebrates our 1st Birthday.
18th February 2007 - Don't fly to Brazil !
At first consideration taking a container ship to Brazil sounds a crazy idea. But the more we thought about it the more attractive it sounds. Think of the destination options: Manuas, Belem, Fortaleza, Salvador, Rio, Santos. And that's just the big ports. When flying to Brazil, as we've discussed before, the choice of destinations is limited. But on a cargo ship the whole of Brazil suddenly opens up ! A cargo ship cruise is time consuming. It's 11 days from Europe to the North East of Brazil and from Miami to Salvador is a 10 day trip. This kind of journey is epic in proportion. You'll need to be time and cash rich. A one way ticket will set you back around USD 1500, and then you'll need a return flight ! Add in the fact that cargo ships aren't designed like luxury yachts, it's apparent that this journey isn't for everyone. For itinerates and prices check out sites like freighterworld.com or strandtravel.co.uk
19th January 2007 - Flying from the USA to Brazil.As Brazil’s largest trading partner and home to the largest Brazilian expatriate population the USA has the most number of flights to Brazil than any other country. The nearest and cheapest city to fly from is Miami, so you can save yourself some money by taking an internal flight and then on from Miami to Brazil. United, Continental, Delta and American Airlines all fly to Brazil, though they also operate code shares with TAM so there is a possibility of being on another companies plane.
The are several gateway cities in the US (as listed above) with direct flights to Brazil, but the reverse is not true. You’ll find it easy flying to Rio or São Paulo, but other direct flight destinations in Brazil are non existent. American does fly to Fortaleza and Salvador but the planes double back.
Tracking down a good value airfare to Brazil is always a challenge, anything under USD1000 can be considered a good value fare ! If you are considering going to the Pan American Games in Rio during July and August we'd recommend buying your flight as soon as possible, whilst there are still some reasonably priced tickets left. You can find the Brazil flights specialists advertising in Brazilian Press (website) or AcheiUSA (website). If you contact these newspapers they'll send you a printed copy for free.
16th December 2006 - The Flights Blog Christmas Present
This month we have a special Brazil flights blog Christmas present from the holidayinbrazil.com research team ! Have you ever wondered how convenient it would be if you could check your arrivals and departures on line ? Wonder no more because Infraero (the Brazil airports operator) provide one on their website. It’s currently only in
Portuguese so we’ve got some instructions to go with it ! Click the Arrivals / Departures button on our graphic to start.
Any Brazil Airport
On the new Infraero window click “» Quero escolher um Aeroporto!” A drop down box will load showing the names of all the airports in Brazil. Choose the airport you want. (Remember São Paulo international airport is called Guarulhos, and Rio’s is called Galieão.) Then click the button to the right of the drop down box labeled “Consultar vôos” The page will refresh with two tabs. “Chegadas” for arrivals and “Partidas” for departures. The data is complied electronically from the airlines themselves so you can be sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. Happy Christmas !
Next month: A feature on flying from the U.S.A. to Brazil.
16th November 2006 - Charter Flights to Brazil
When you think of flying to Brazil it's unlikely that you'd consider a charter flight as your first choice. If you're not intent on traveling in Brazil for a long duration and want to visit the North East, Salvador and Natal, they could be exactly what you are looking for ! Especially as they undercut the schedule airline prices substantially. We found a 14 day return from London to Salvador for GBP 262 !! The main two UK players in the market are charterflights.co.uk (website) and thomsonfly.co.uk The former offers flights to Natal and Salvador and the later to Natal. The period returns are 7, 14 and 21 days. In contrast to a schedule airline prices tend to drop closer to the departure date rather than being discounted the further you book in advance.
From the United States the leading charter flights to Brazil specialist was Avocet Travel. Whilst they still offer package tours to Salvador the charter flights have ceased as they bought charters from Varig.
Next Month: A Christmas present from the holidayinbrazil.com flights blog.
18th October 2006 - Flight times to Brazil.
If, like us, you've ever wondered exactly how long it takes to fly to Brazil from various cities we figured it would be useful to have a handy reference table of flight times to Brazil, so we have produced one for you. The table is for direct flights to São Paulo (as that is the best connected city in Brazil) from selected destinations around the world. Sourced from the carriers these flights are the shortest published times that can be expected on the São Paulo route. Your flight maybe a little longer in reality. The flight from L.A. does involve a stop as does the Tokyo flight.
Next month we are back with a feature on tracking down charter flights to Brazil as we reckon there is some extra value to be had away from the scheduled airlines.
18th September 2006 - GOL. Up up and away !
Since its initial public offering in June 2004, GOL Airlines has grown into Brazil's - and one of the world's - most successful carriers. It has the widest selection of trans Brazil flights of any of Brazil's 9 domestic carriers and exclusively fly's 50 Boeing 737's, grabbing a 35% market share. Gol's hub is São Paulo, split between Congonhas and Garulhos airports. In addition to Gol's domestic routes they also fly to Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. A flight to Lima, Peru is due to start soon.
BRA 188.62 Gol 159.00 OceanAir 300.00 Tam 329.12 Varig (From) 159.00
Gol started out as a dedicated low cost carrier but has benefited from the demise of Varig and the closures of Transbrasil Linhas Aereas in December 2001 and Viacao Aerea São Paulo in January 2005. This has meant Gol has been able to pursue wealthier passengers whilst keeping a lid on it's cost base. Gol is no longer the cheapest ticket in town, but you pay for what you get. Gol are the second most reliable airline in Brazil.
The table to the right shows a single flight from São Paulo to Brasília booked 1 month in advance. The cheapest Gol fare is very competitive against it's rivals but the most expensive GOL fare is R$ 390. Book in advance !
The big disadvantage is that Gol only accept foreign credit card holders that can pay online with American Express. Your only other option is to pay in cash at the flight desk. Domestic tour operators and Brazil flight specialists outside of Brazil will re-sell you a GOL flight with a booking fee attached.
Next Month : Flight times to Brazil from gateway cities.
16th August 2006 - How to fly from Brazil to Australia.
In this month’s blog we are going to look at how to fly from Brazil to Australia. This route is of particular interest to
anyone who wants to plan a round the world trip as it links South America to the Asian air corridors. Sadly there are no direct flights. And at a distance of 13,355 km there is only the Boeing 777 ER that could fly it in one leg via Antarctica ! The simplest route is São Paulo – Buenos Aires – Auck land – Sydney with Aerolineas Argentinas. The big plus on this flight is that you only have to change plane once in Buenos Aires. The other choice is to fly via Santiago so there is a degree of flexibility from where you start from in Brazil, though the number of plane changes can quickly add up as you will find each leg of the journey involves a different carrier. The refueling stop in Auckland also gives you the opportunity to end the flight in New Zeal and or change plane and fly to another destination in Australia if you prefer. At current prices a Brazil / Australia return will get you a few cents change from USD 1,800. Happy flying !
Brazil to Australia
Next month: GOL Power. Up, up and away with Brazil’s first low cost airline.
17 July 2006 - Brazil Air Pass +Varig Update (2).
The Brazil Air Pass is a book of flight coupons that allow you to fly anywhere in Brazil on Tam flights. Varig also offer a practically identical Brazil Air Pass, but as there flight status is questionable -see below, we're just going to talk about Tam's.
Options: The minimum number of flights you can buy is 4 up to a maximum of 9. Price: From $521 / ₤290 (includes taxes and other charges)
Restrictions: Only available to purchase outside of Brazil in conjunction with a return Brazil air ticket. All flights must be pre-booked. No open flights allowed. Valid for 21 days from first flight.
Advantages: It's all booked and paid for in advance so you know how, when and where you're going to be flying ! Ideal for people on a whistle-stop tour, business travelers, or novice Brazil travelers who don't want the aggravation of booking your flights in Brazil after you have arrived.
Rio Galeão Airport
Disadvantages: Personally we aren't that enthusiastic about the Air Pass. It's overly restrictive with the time allowed for completing all the flights and has no flexibility for changing or canceling. The cost increases if you do not fly to Brazil with Tam and the cost is not competitive if you book your flights in advance on GOL's website. If you fly with a days notice on GOL the price is about the same and you gain the flexiblity of arriving and departing at your leisure.
Varig Update 2
Varig has been declared bankrupt and most of it's flights are grounded. It does still operate the profitable European and American routes but these could be grounded at anytime without notice. A buyer for Varig has emerged, its sister company Varig Logistics. However there is much wrangling over the price still to be done and a fully re-instated service is below the horizon. We are still advising against buying Varig flights.
Next Month: How to fly from Australia to Brazil.
18th June 2006 - Varig Update.
The financial troubles of Brazil's flag carrying airline, Varig, are almost at an end. Following a very long winded corporate re-organisation where the not for profit Ruben Berta foundation lost its controlling stake and Varig's debts were rolled into a separate company an auction was held on the 8th June for Varig's remaining assets. The only bidder was a consortium of Varig employees who offered $411 million less than the minimum bid price. As we blog Judge Luiz Roberto Ayoub is still condsidering their offer. In the weekend ending 16th June Varig cancelled 112 domestic and international flights. If Varig is declared bankrupt all planes will be grounded. The Brazilian government has an un-published plan to honour the16,000 Varig ticket holders with return flights to Brazil. The plan can only be transfering the tickets to other airlines; commandeering Varig's assets; chartering planes or a combination of the three. We certainly don't advise purchasing a Varig flight anytime soon.
Next month: The Brazil air pass. Options, pros and cons.
16th May 2006 – Getting the best deal on flights to Brazil.You’ll be pleased to know that there are a couple of neat tricks that you can employ to save yourself money on a flight to Brazil.
Firstly book in advance as far as possible, even if you are traveling at peak periods (pre-Christmas / New Year and Carnival). This will save you at least $100. A good timing trick is to fly out end of November, before the price increases and then return the second week of January. This is just about feasible if you stack 2 annual holiday allowances together over year end. It’s worth it ! After all: It’s Brazil !
A second cost saving strategy to employ is to fly via another hub. This works best within Europe but is do-able from anywhere. For example if you’re flying London to São Paulo, it’s often cheaper to fly via Paris or Madrid. It’s cheap to fly to M ia mi from Europe so why not have a few days stop over in Flo r ida on the way to Brazil ? The reverse is true if flying from the east coast of the U.S.
The final trick you can utilise to reduce the cost of your flight to Brazil is carefully choosing where you buy it. If you are lucky enough to be a student buy your ticket at the campus travel agent when they’re having a Latin American sale. That’s undoubtedly the best option for the youth traveler, but for those of us not in such a fortuitous position you need a specialist Brazil flights broker. Not every high street has them, but here we show you where to track them down.
As we’ve previously written there are lots of Brazilian expatriates all over the world. Within their communities you’ll find Brazilian lawyers, Brazilian dentists and Brazilian travel agents ! These are the people who will sell you the best value ticket. For people living in the USA pick up a copy of Brazilian Press (website) or AcheiUSA (website) or in the U.K. Jungle Drums (website). If you don’t know a Brazilian hangout email them and they’ll send you a copy (they are free!). Within these expatriate newspapers you’ll find adverts for Brazilian travel agents that are specifically for Brazilians and the source of the best value tickets !
16th April 2006 - Why is flying to Brazil so expensive ?
Consider flying from New York to Rio or Tokyo. The distance for the Rio flight is 7,736 km and for the NYC Tokyo trip it's 10,878 km. If the relationship between distance and cost is linear you might expect the price of the flight to Rio de Janeiro to be the least. A quick check on Expedia shows this is not the case. A 2 week return ticket NYC - Rio is $1020 for NYC - Tokyo it's $871, that's $149 cheaper to fly over 3,000 km further ! Clearly the price of the flight has little to do with distance flown. In fact the cost of a flight is dependant on many factors. Some of them are as follows:
1. How many people want to fly irrespective of cost.
2. The lowest fare required to attract people who will only fly on cheap tickets.
3. The price of rival airlines' tickets.
4. Revenue per mile per passenger.
5. The ratio of business and 1st Class passengers to economy passengers.
6. The regulatory environment.
Flights to Brazil are most dependant on factors 3, 5 and 6. The real killer is 6 and that international flights to and from Brazil are governed with bi-lateral treaties. A bi-lateral aviation treaty is basically an agreement between two countries that states what airlines and how many planes can fly between the two countries and which airlines have what landing slots at various airports. This effectively translates into one plane from a country's flag carrier airline being allowed to land in Brazil for each Brazilian airline being given a landing slot at that country's capital city's airport. When these treaties originated in the earlier days of international air travel a limited number of flights were sufficient, however in the 21st century demand has far out stripped supply. And supply is constrained by outdated treaties. There are in fact just 430 international arrivals per month for the whole of Brazil ! Compare that to London's Heathrow airport which has approximately the same number of international arrivals in one day.
Given the size of the Brazilian expatriate community, 1 million plus in the USA and a few hundred thousand in Europe and the relative size of Brazil's economy to its major trading partners, the ratio of business and 1st class passengers to economy passengers is very low. This puts up the price for the economy passenger as there are less 1st Class and business passengers effectively subsidising them. Demand for those economy seats is also sky high due to the size of the ex-patriot community.
Rival airlines also have to work within the confines of the bi-lateral treaties so there is little incentive for them to cut prices. As other start up airlines have significant barriers to entering the Brazilian market, the price cutting opportunities from additional competition is extinguished. Aviation treaties were originally designed to protect national flag carriers, though for Brazil's Varig this strategy has back fired. It is ironic that the most successful airlines in the world operate in the most de-regulated and competitive markets.
So, the next time you buy an air ticket to Brazil and you are left reeling by the cost of it and wonder why, just remember the above !
Our next blog will be about how to find the cheapest deals on flights to Brazil. Available 16th May 06.