Flex Linhas Aéreas
|Founded||2006 (as Nordeste)
2007 (as Flex)
|Operating bases||Rio de Janeiro/Galeão - Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport|
|Parent company||Ruben Berta Foundation|
|Headquarters||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Key people||Carlos Berardinelli (Director)|
Flex Linhas Aéreas, styled as FLEX, was a Brazilian non-regular charter airline based at Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport. It is the brand name of Nordeste Linhas Aéreas S.A., judicial successor of former Viação Aérea Rio-Grandense, known as Varig. Informally Flex is known as "old Varig". The rebranding was necessary because since July 20, 2006 the brand Varig belongs to a different judicial entity. Flex was declared bankrupt on August 20, 2010.
The history of Flex Linhas Aéreas is intimately related to the one of Varig, since Flex is the judicial successor of Varig.
As part of this process, the airline was divided into two portions, informally known as "old" Varig and "new" Varig. "Old" Varig was judicially known as Viação Aérea Rio-Grandense. "New" Varig, judicially known as VRG Linhas Aéreas, is a new airline formed with some assets of the original Varig and which was auctioned on 14 July 2006. The legal procedures were finalized on 20 July 2006. Since that day VRG Linhas Aéreas and Viação Aérea Rio-Grandense have been different judicial entities and airlines.
At the time of the auction, the assets of VRG Linhas Aéreas comprised the brands Varig and Rio Sul Serviços Aéreos, Varig's route rights, all aircraft but one and the Smiles mileage program. VRG Linhas Aéreas was bought by VarigLog. On 28 March 2007 VarigLog sold "new Varig" to Gol Transportes Aéreos, which presently operates the brand Varig.
Viação Aérea Rio Grandense, informally known as "old Varig", retained the brand of Varig's former subsidiary Nordeste Linhas Aéreas Regionais, the IATA code of Nordeste, one aircraft, debts, liabilities, legal disputes, and various assets, concessions and properties of the original Varig. Since "old Varig", could not use the name Varig (brand and judicial name) anymore, its official judicial denomination changed to Nordeste Linhas Aéreas S.A.
In order to give an image of new start, the brand name Flex was chosen. This name was unveiled on 23 October 2007 during the Brazilian Travel Agents Congress ABAV, in Rio de Janeiro. The first flight under the new brand, a charter return flight between Rio de Janeiro Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport and Salvador-Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães International Airport, took place on 8 March 2008.
Between 17 June 2005 and 2 September 2009, Viação Aérea Rio-Grandense and later its successor since 2007 known by the brand Flex, remained in Recovery Order in the 1st Business Court of Rio de Janeiro, under the leadership of Judges Luiz Roberto Ayoub and Miguel Dau. After the bankruptcy protection was lifted, the administration of the airline could have returned to its original owner, Fundação Ruben Berta, which still owed 87% of the shares of Varig. However, Fundação Ruben Berta preferred to keep a judicial administrator.
On 18 August 2009, Flex Linhas Aéreas had its authorization to operate non-regular passenger, cargo and postal services renewed for one year by the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC). Therefore, Flex operated flights on behalf of other airlines, as contracted. As part of the decisions made during the 2006 split, VRG Linhas Aéreas ("new Varig", owner of the brands Varig and Gol), was obliged to purchase from Flex a minimum of 140 hours worth of services per month. For this reason, some of VRG Linhas Aéreas flights, usually two flights a day, were operated by Flex under Gol flight numbers. This agreement ended in 2009.
Flex was on a BRL4 billion (USD2,1 billion, EUR1,5 billion) judicial dispute with the Federal Government of Brazil, a sum that corresponded to approximately 50% of its debts. The question is still under analysis at the Federal Supreme Court and the airline had already won the cause in all other instances. Furthermore, Flex financial problems persisted, including momentary failure to pay the due insurance costs of its sole aircraft and leasing fees to the owner of the aircraft, which led to the grounding of the aircraft between November 1 and November 27, 2009.
On November 10, 2009 the director Aurélio Penelas was replaced by Carlos Berardinelli, who was able to reach an agreement with the lessor weeks later and Flex could fly again. However, on February 1, 2010, the Flex aircraft was grounded again for delays in payment of insurance and leasing fees.
As a result of accumulated debts around BRL10 billion (USD5,7 billion, EUR4,5 billion), on August 20, 2010, at the request of the administrator, the 1st Business Court of Rio de Janeiro declared Flex bankrupt and initiated the process of liquidation. However, on September 10, the bankruptcy process was suspended at the request of Ruben Berta Foundation and the company returned in practical terms to recovery order status until the validity of the bankruptcy is judged.
Flex Linhas Aéreas operated non-regular passenger, cargo and postal services on behalf of other airlines, as contracted, being Gol its main client. For this reason, some of VRG Linhas Aéreas flights were operated by Flex, under Gol flight numbers.
The fleet of Flex Linhas Aéreas included the following aircraft in August 2010:
|Boeing 737-300||1||Received from Varig|
Flex Aviation and Flex Communication Services
FLEX Linhas Aéreas offers training for activities related to the air transport industries at the Flex Aviation Center (FAC), with schools located in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It commissions and trains pilots, flight crew, flight operational, dispatchers operational, specialists in flight safety, onsite staff to airports and shops, handling of cargo, and management courses. Its courses are recognized by organizations such as IATA and ICAO.
Flex Linhas Aéreas provided services to Aerodrome Flight Information Region (AFIS), and Meteorology Service (MET) and Airport Information Service (AIS) on several airports in Brazil through the Flex Communication Center (FCC). FCC served, among others: TAM Airlines, VRG Linhas Aéreas (operator of Gol and Varig brands), VarigLog, Avianca Brazil, NHT Linhas Aéreas, and Embraer. After the bankruptcy on August 20, 2010, this service was taken over by TRIP Linhas Aéreas.
- Beting, Gianfranco; Beting, Joelmir (2009). Varig: Eterna Pioneira (in Portuguese). Porto Alegre and São Paulo: EDIPUCRS and Beting Books. pp. 248, 251–252, 262. ISBN 978-85-7430-901-9.
- Agência Brasil (22 June 2005). "Justiça autoriza plano de recuperação da Varig" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Grabois, Ana Paula (20 July 2006). "Oficializada venda da Varig para VarigLog pelo preço de R$52,334 milhões" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Grabois, Ana Paula (28 March 2007). "Para Ayoub, compra da Varig pela Gol deve ajudar Varig antiga" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Rosas, Rafael (22 October 2007). "Em recuperação judicial, "velha" Varig pode voltar a voar em dezembro, agora com o nome de Flex" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Osse, José Sérgio (14 April 2008). "Flex Linhas Aéreas, a velha Varig, reinicia operações com vôo fretado" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Baeta, Zínia (3 September 2009). "Justiça do Rio encerra processo de recuperação judicial da Varig" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Komatsu, Alberto; Baeta, Zínia (23 August 2010). "Gol pode ser acionada por credores da Varig" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (20 August 2009). "Renovação de concessão operacional para a Nordeste Linhas Aéreas (Flex)" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ata de reunião da ANAC realizada em 18 de agosto de 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- "Flex Linhas Aéreas (Brasil)" (in Portuguese). Aviação Brasil. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- Barbosa, Mariana (25 August 2009). "Disputa de valores emperra acordo entre União e velha Varig" (in Portuguese). O Estado de São Paulo. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Komatsu, Alberto (3 November 2009). "Flex busca, até sexta-feira, solução para sobreviver" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- Komatsu, Alberto (4 December 2009). "Flex negocia prazos e volta a voar para a Gol" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- "Curtas: Flex no chão novamente" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- "Justiça decreta falência da Flex, antiga Varig" (in Portuguese). O Estado de São Paulo. 20 August 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Laguna, Eduardo (20 August 2010). "Justiça do Rio decreta a falência da antiga Varig" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
- Baeta, Zínia (10 September 2010). "Processo de falência da Varig é suspenso" (in Portuguese). Valor Online. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Website of Flex Aviation Center (FAC)
- Website of Flex Communication Center (FCC)
- Niemeyer, Felipe (20 August 2010). "Falência da Flex, Rio Sul e Nordeste: Trip deve assumir" (in Portuguese). Panrotas. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Flex Linhas Aéreas
- Flex Aviation Center
- Flex Communication Center
- Ruben Berta Foundation
- Flex Linhas Aéreas Photo Archive at airliners.net
- National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil