Former Varig 727 Gets A New Life As A Brazilian Museum

A group of former employees of ex-Brazilian carrier Varig bought a Boeing 727-100F for 85,000 reais (about US$16,500). The aircraft was being sold in an auction in an attempt to save it; it was abandoned in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

Varig Boeing 727
A group of former Varig employees just bought this old Boeing 727 in Porto Alegre. Photo: Santayana Leilões

What’s the future of this Boeing 727?

The auction company Santayana Leiloes put the aircraft up for grabs in October, as reported by local news outlet Aeroin. The airplane, registration PP-VLD had been abandoned since 2006, when Varig ceased operations. It was parked at Salgado Filho International Airport in Porto Alegre.

Once the news of the auction reached the ears of former Varig’s employees, they thought about buying it.

Lead by Rubem Moscar Burguel, a former Varig engineer that worked at the airline for 35 years, he created a group of nearly 250 former employees. They all provided cash to win the auction for the aircraft.

The auction started at 40,000 reais (approximately US$7,770). Little by little, it grew until it was sold for 85,000 reais. Now, Rubem Burguel has one thing in mind: to create a Varig museum. In an interview with Bol Noticias, he said,

“I was already thinking about how to open up a Varig museum and bring in objects. The auction was the perfect opportunity. As soon as I knew that a Boeing 727 was up for sale, I couldn’t let the opportunity go by.”

The next step is to look for a place to set up the museum. But Burguel is clear that the Boeing 727 is not leaving Porto Alegre. After all, Porto Alegre was Varig’s main headquarters.

Varig ceased operations in 2006. In this picture, you can see many Varig airplanes stranded. Photo: Getty Images.

A brief history of PP-VLD

Varig acquired this Boeing 727 in 1970. It only ever had one owner in the Brazilian carrier. Between 1970 and 1989, PP-VLD operated as a passenger aircraft before Varig turned it into a cargo plane.

Then, between 1986 and 2006, Varig operated this plane on its specialized cargo carrier, Varig LOG.

Once Varig ceased operations in 2006, the airplane remained abandoned in Porto Alegre’s airport. The pictures, provided to Simple Flying by Santayana Leiloes, show the stay of decay of the Boeing 727.

Also, according to Santayana Leiloes, this plane has a length of 46.69 meters. Its wingspan is 39.92 meters and has a height of 10.36 meters. Back in its flying days, it had a maximum takeoff weight load of 95,030 kilograms and could fly at a speed of up to 953 km/h.

Varig Boeing 727
The Boeing 727 is going to become a museum of Varig’s history. Photo: Santayana Leilões

A brief history of Varig

Now, let’s talk about the Brazilian airline Varig.

Even though Varig ceased operations almost 15 years ago, it is still in many Brazilians’ minds and hearts. It was the Pan Am of Latin America, a big historical carrier that fell off a cliff.

During its peak, in the 1980s, Varig connected 42 foreign cities in 33 countries, averaging 14.21 million passengers per year.

If Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo is now the second-largest hub in Latin America is thanks to Varig. The Brazilian carrier transferred its operations from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo in 1988 while keeping Porto Alegre as its headquarter.

But Varig couldn’t adapt to the turn of the century. It faced many financial troubles and raised a debt of more than US$118 million by 2002. Varig filed for bankruptcy in 2005, running out of money the next year, when it only had a fleet of 10 aircraft and seven destinations.

Nowadays, many people in Brazil still try to keep Varig’s brand fresh in memory. Maybe the launching of this museum would help.

Would you be keen to visit the Varig’s museum in Porto Alegre? Let us know in the comments.