Virgin Atlantic’s Sao Paulo Flights Launch March 2020

Filed Under: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is an airline that has historically been pretty conservative with their growth. This February the airline announced flights to Tel Aviv, which is their new shortest route. Then in March the airline announced flights to Sao Paulo, which will be their only route to South America.

The Sao Paulo flight only launches in 2020, and in the past few days the airline has put this new route on sale.

Virgin Atlantic’s Sao Paulo Flights Launch March 2020

Virgin Atlantic will be launching flights between London Heathrow and Sao Paulo as of March 29, 2020.

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

VS197 London to Sao Paulo departing 10:30PM arriving 6:25AM (+1 day)
VS198 Sao Paulo to London departing 4:25PM arriving 7:50AM (+1 day)

The flight will cover a distance of ~5,900 miles, and is blocked at 11hr55min westbound and 11hr25min eastbound.

The airline will operate the flight with a Boeing 787-9, featuring 258 seats. This includes 31 Upper Class seats, 35 premium economy seats, and 192 economy seats.

Virgin Atlantic will be going head-to-head against both British Airways and LATAM, which also operate the route.

The flight is now on sale in all fare classes, though I don’t yet see any award available, I’m sure that will change soon.

What Virgin Atlantic Executives Say About The Route

Virgin Atlantic’s EVP of Commercial said the following regarding this route:

“2019 marks the start of a new phase of growth for Virgin Atlantic as we work to become the most loved travel company. São Paulo represents an incredible opportunity for our business, and we’re very excited to be flying to a brand new continent for the first time. There are a significant number of corporate customers, and multi-national businesses, located in this Powerhouse of South America who can now enjoy the Virgin Atlantic experience on this busy international route.

But it’s not all about business – I’m also thrilled to introduce an exciting new destination to our leisure customers. São Paulo boasts numerous cultural institutions such as the Museu de Arte, has a rich architectural history, and acts as a gateway for leisure travel within the rest of Brazil and beyond. This is a prime opportunity for Virgin Holidays who are busy securing a range of ancillary partners and diverse accommodation options for those customers seeking a full-service holiday offering.”

Virgin Atlantic Sao Paulo Summary

Virgin Atlantic will be launching daily flights to Sao Paulo as of March 2020.

It’s great to see Virgin Atlantic expand destinations beyond just transatlantic routes they’ve been focused on where they have a joint venture with Delta (which will also soon include Air France and KLM).

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s new route to Sao Paulo?

  1. Seems like a good way to lose money. Demand to Brazil has fallen and I doubt if they’ll even launch this route.

  2. direct fares from london to brasil are absolute silly season, 6 months advance purchase economy with saturday stay often £900+ so unless premium cabin demand is genuinely awful, which for a 12+hr flight that will presumably be overnight both ways would be slightly surprising, then it would from the armchair CEO seem as good a choice as any for a new route.

    Any clues where the slot is coming from for this?

  3. Hopefully on the new Supersonic boom they have ordered.

    Takes as long as it did 40 years ago to cross the Atlantic diagonally.

  4. how will they make money on award bookings without the ability to charge fuel surcharges from GRU?! i love starting itineraries from brazil because it eliminates fuel surcharges on the whole itinerary.

  5. @Ian they haven’t started operating yet. Am sure they would being almost entirely owned by delta klm and Air France It’s logical they would partner with gol

  6. As someone that flies in/out of GRU a lot, there is a ton J and some F demand. VS should have been flying to EZE or GRU years ago. GIG also is a perfect fit for their image.

    I think they will do well. Surprised they are not tagging to GIG, although VS is not really into tag on flights, but I think it could work.

  7. Well, I live in Brazil and, from a consumer POV, I’m excited about it. Virgin herringbones may be dated, but still better than LATAM’s and BA’s stale 777s. Also, it breaks the OneWorld monopoly on the route.

  8. Finally! Smart move to increase competition with BA and bring prices down hopefully. Demand for Brazil is always there, specially with Brazilians travelling to Europe via London. Terrific choice!

  9. This is a long time coming. It was rumoured years ago (talking 15 or so).

    It finally breaks the OW monopoly. One would imagine VS have had some sort of access to KL/AF data on the route as well. I presume they know how many people originate at LHR on AF/KL and have realised that they will be able to make the route work and presumably AF/KL are comfortable with that.

  10. They have a codeshare with G3 (which is another DL investment), so should be able to generate a decent amount of connections at GRU.

  11. Brazil was on Branson’s wish list 20 years ago. That they are finally heading down there in 2020 makes one wonder. I picked up on this in the ether the day other day when I wondered why no US based carrier flies it (PA use to do a LHR – South America flight(s) back in the day) …so here comes VS (dl).

    Good luck to them, I think they will do VERY well into GRU, and should be looking at GIG very closely! GIG has the Luxury vacation demand there for sure, and the Virgin brand (I mean the name alone – would sell well).

  12. They will succeed for sure. Sao Paulo (GRU) is the economic powerhouse of Brazil and South America, it’s where the money is. There is demand for upper classes as well as econ.
    Rio de Janeiro (GIG) could be an option from LGW as it’s more of a holiday destination and Virgin doesn’t offer connections further. People could get flights with Easyjet or Norwegian (if they are still flying then). Norwegian flies to GIG from LGW and people are enjoying the prices and possibility to buy 1-way fare with a good price.

  13. @Joel Demand for Brazil has fallen???

    Do you know anything about Brazil?

    Gol is expanding rapidly in NE Brazil, especially to the U.S. Azul continues to grow and to look for new markets. GRU is one of the busiest airports in the Americas with rapid growth. S.P. also has a total of three very busy airports to serve the nearly 25M people in the state. Flights are packed from most Intl. markets and domestically. Even Emirates flies to GRU twice a day now.

    The recent changing of visa requirements makes travel much easier to Brazil. And the boom of areas around Bahia and Fortaleza for tourism are making it one of the hottest rising markets for leisure in the world. KLM, Air France, Condor, TAP are all operating flights nearly daily to Fortaleza from Europe.

    The manufacturing sector around S.P. and elsewhere in the south is booming. Car manufacturers, Aerospace, etc.

    I live there for part of each year so if you ever want to actually learn something about this incredible country and the opportunities it has for leisure and business just let me know. In the meantime maybe give Brazil a bit of respect in your comments.

  14. @ Stuart

    All true, but (from a UK perspective/ bias) I always think of SP as the business hub and Rio as the posh leisure hub. Virgin is more about the leisure market whereas BA is more for business.

    If that crude stereotype is true, I find it odd that Virgin’s priority is GRU rather than GIG. Though a Brazilian friend recently told me that the new Chinese owners of GIG have raised landing fees to the point where it’s now one of the most expensive airports on the planet. Maybe that was a factor. It would also explain why a part-loaded tag flight would be uneconomic.

    As an aside, I find GIG a bit perplexing. All the flights I’ve been on have arrived at or departed from Terminal 2. It turns out GIG only has one terminal.

  15. @Stuart

    The country you are describing is not the same I live in. Brazil has been in a crisis for the past four years, and for 2019 GDP growth is expected at 0.8%.

  16. Great value at from £529 economy return LHR to GRU at time of writing. Dreamliner 787-9. 1 checked bag adds £100 to the return price. BA economy equivalent is circa £100 more than Virgin (albeit not using the 787).

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