Virgin Atlantic is to postpone the launch of its new route from London Heathrow to São Paulo.
Virgin was due to launch a new daily service to São Paulo Guarulhos international airport on Sunday 29 March 2020.
However, this has now been delayed until Monday 5 October 2020.
The airline has cited the uncertainty caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the reason for the delay.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Virgin should also the opportunity to rebook to a later date, or a rerouting via its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta Air Lines.
There is no doubt that the current situation facing all airlines is now very serious, with significantly reduced demand.
With so many events being cancelled and organisations banning international travel, there is very little that can be done to stimulate demand.
Virgin has followed many other airlines in waiving change fees for new flights booked up to Tuesday 31 March 2020 for travel up Wednesday 30 September 2020.
Update Saturday 18 April 2020:
Virgin has now cancelled its planned launch of Sao Paulo entirely.
Virgin Atlantic is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to São Paulo.
Virgin Atlantic will fly to São Paulo Guarulhos international airport from an as yet unspecified date in 2020. The route will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Virgin has yet to publish a schedule. However, it’s a reasonable assumption flights will leave Heathrow late in the evening to arrive in São Paulo in the early morning.
São Paulo may at first seem daunting for the visitor. It is certainly a very sharp contrast to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and it is a destination where you do need to some homework in advance. However, São Paulo does have excellent night life, art galleries and public parks such as Ibirapuera Park. Locals are also extremely welcoming and helpful to visitors.
One of the biggest issues is traffic congestion and you do need to allow a generous amount of time when travelling to the airport. If you are also taking domestic flights in Brazil you want to fly to/from Congonhas-São Paulo airport which is much more conveniently located.
Given Virgin’s focus on North America in recent years, it is encouraging to see more non-North American routes. Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta owns a stake in Brazilian airline GOL which may have been one of the factors behind the decision.
Virgin Atlantic will be competing head to head against BA and LATAM, who are due to launch a new joint-venture with Iberia covering Europe – Latin America, subject to an appeal in Chile.
Norwegian has launched a new route from London Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro.
This is Norwegian’s second route from Gatwick to South America after Buenos Aires.
Norwegian will fly four times weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sundays from Sunday 31 March 2019. Flights will be operated with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
The route is effectively a replacement for London Gatwick – Singapore which ends on Thursday 28 March 2019.
Norwegian will be competing against British Airways, which is the only other airline to fly direct from London to Rio. Like BA, the outbound flight is a day flight from London.
Rio de Janeiro is a stunningly beautiful city to visit and it would take a heart of stone not to be seduced by it. Brazil does of course have well documented problems and a volatile political culture. However, this should not deter visitors. Rigid adherence to basic personal safety advice does go a very long way.
London Gatwick – Rio de Janeiro
Flight DI7501 Depart London Gatwick 12:00 – Arrive Rio de Janeiro 19:25 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)
Flight DI7502 Depart Rio de Janeiro 22:25 – Arrive London Gatwick 13:35 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)
Here are few changes to both British Airways and LATAM flights between London and Brazil that have emerged recently.
BA appears to have taken First Class off sale for flights between London Heathrow and Rio de Janeiro from Monday 30 October 2017.
This suggests that the route has been downgraded from a four class Boeing 777 to a three class Boeing 777. It was upgraded to first class in 2013. The route continues to operate five times weekly.
BA is now codesharing with LATAM on a number of domestic routes from Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport.
These include routes operated by BA’s fellow Oneworld alliance partner between Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Foz do Iguaçu, Goiana, Porto Alegre, Recife, Salvador da Bahia and Vitoria.
Note that these can only be booked as part of a connecting international itinerary. BA and LATAM are currently securing regulatory approval for a joint-venture between Latin America and Europe so expect further co-operation in the coming years.
Finally, as first reported by Routes Online LATAM is to increase its London Heathrow – Sao Paulo service from daily to 9 times weekly for a little over a month from Sunday 9 July 2017 to Friday 18 August 2017.
The additional flight operates from London on Monday and Friday and from Sao Paulo on Sunday and Thursday.
British Airways has announced it is to upgrade its London Heathrow – Rio de Janeiro route from a three class Boeing 777-200 aircraft to a four class Boeing 777-300 aircraft from Sunday 27 October 2013.