After Five Months, American Discontinues New York To Viracopos Route

There’s no arguing that American’s single strongest international market is Latin America. While American is doing their best to catch up with the other legacies in Asia and Europe, they have a clear advantage in Latin America.

Heck, they fly to 10 destinations in Brazil. If I’m being perfectly honest, I can’t even name 10 cities in Brazil.

Sao-Paulo
On approach into Sao Paulo, Brazil

While American seems to be able to make just about any route to Latin America work, I was a bit surprised when they announced they would launch new flights to Viracopos, Brazil, as of December 2014.

This included daily service between Miami and Viracopos, as well as 3x weekly service between New York and Viracopos. That Airport is about 50 miles from the Sao Paulo Airport, though admittedly with traffic there’s quite a bit of distance between the two airports.

Viracopos-Flights

Anyway, I guess I wasn’t crazy in wondering whether that really had the potential to be a lucrative route, as American is already discontinuing the 3x weekly New York to Viracopos route as of March 29, 2015.

As of now they’re still keeping the route between Miami and Viracopos, which I’m guessing they can make work, since they can just route all passengers through Miami.

While seatmaps are never a 100% accurate indicator of how a flight is doing, the seatmaps between New York and Viracopos are empty. Looking at the flight over the coming weeks, I don’t see a single flight with more than 50 seats occupied on the seatmap, between both business class and economy class.

Bottom line

It seems like American launched this Viracopos service simply to compete with Azul’s new routes to the US, not wanting to lose too much Sao Paulo-area market share to another airline.

Azul

I can’t blame them for discontinuing the route, and I’ll be curious to see if the Miami route sticks around as well.

Do you think the Miami to Viracopos route will stick around, or was this new service just a hasty response to Azul?

Comments

  1. I am surprised AA why they invest large amount resources in Brazil without good loading.

  2. I agree with Raymond Leung above… AA is too focused on LatAm, to the point that it doesn’t make sense. But maybe Doug will change that…

  3. If Brazil didn’t have such harsh visa complications these routes might make more sense. I’m guessing that they are trying to ramp up Brazil routes ahead of the Olympics as well.

  4. I love when travel bloggers (and commenters) make sweeping generalizations without any actual hard knowledge.

    @Latean says: “AA is too focused on LatAm, to the point that it doesn’t make sense.” If you could provide financial metrics to back up this characterization, I’d appreciate it. Do you have access to AA’s internal financial models? If so, please share the data. I am interested.

  5. I think “it´s the economy, stupid!”. Brazil’s economy is really struggling and Real has suffered a great devaluation. The main flux was Brazilians to USA and not the opposite. With fewer Brazilians travelling, I think this will be just the beginning.

  6. @mark

    i obviously don’t, but how much profit do you think they are turning on those empty flights???

  7. I can see why AA tried the VCP route. I have taken the Miami – Viracopas flight. Viracopas is a gritty industrial area with of lots of Hi-Tech manufacturing. From a work standpoint, I like it because it gets me to my destination without battling Sao Paolo traffic after an overnight flight to Brazil.

    VCP is an interesting airport, it is chief hub for Azul, Brazil’s low cost carrier, but also has brand new terminal which is still under construction. The new terminal if and when completed would give the GRU Terminal 3 a run for its money. I am wondering if AA was trying to spread its network in SP area.

  8. Good question!
    AA will face more competition from Azul thru Miami. Azul announced extra flights from Viracopos to Fort Lauderdale during the month of April and a second daily service starting in May.

    Will be interesting to see if AA “adds” service from Viracopos to MIA. From what I have heard Florida cargo is an important part of the revenue for both AA and Azul to and from Viracopos.

  9. @Lantean and @Raymond Leung, it is widely known that AA’s LatAm network outperforms the rest of the airline’s network, and by a large margin. So even while this flight may not stick, AA’s LatAm routes are incredibly valuable to the airline.

  10. Stupid move from AA if they drop Viracopos. Maybe they should not have a flight to New York but they should definitely keep Miami. I can guarantee you there are many people that only fly to GRU because they don’t have other option. Sao Paulo State has the largest population, industrial complex, and economic production in the country. It is the richest state in Brazil and is responsible for 40% of the Brazilian GDP. Thus, as Murali mentioned above there are tons of businesses and corporations that are not located in the city of Sao Paulo so very often people have to fly to GRU to then get on a car and drive. Thus, Viracopos is a key airport for people that don’t need to go to GRU. Also, the distance between VCP and GRU is less than 70 miles by car but it can take more than 5 hours depending on how lucky your are with the traffic.
    @Lucky: you should spend more time in Brazil. There are way more than 10 cities you should definitely visit there.

  11. with GRU flight ex MIA & JFK zoo crowded, i’m really surprised that the VCP flights can’t make it. Surely the city of Sao Paulo and surrounding metropolis is large enough that the distance to VCP must be more convenient then GRU. Besides, VCP airport is smaller and moves faster. Passport lines in the morning hours are GRU are sometimes as long as the entire length of the terminal. AA should market the VCP flights as the alternative to GRU.

  12. – about brazilian visa being full of complications for americans: the same applies for a US visa.
    – if VCP was built as planned, it would be a huge airport. Maybe the best one in terms of infrastructure and area. It had everything to grow, but the damm corruption in the government has put all these airport constructions on hold. God only knows when VCP willl be finished.
    – right now 1USD is worth more than R$3,00. This is something that scare brazilians to go travel abroad, specially to the United States.

    VCP / Viracopos airport is in one of the most richest areas in Sao Paulo state – the Campinas metropolitan region.
    And is also Azul’s Hub, so you can pretty much go anywhere in Brazil (from Manaus to Porto Alegre) to VCP by flying Azul.

    Now.. 10 cities in Brazil:

    Sao Paulo
    Rio de Janeiro
    Belo Horizonte
    Porto Alegre
    Curitiba
    Fortaleza
    Recife
    Manaus
    Natal
    Salvador

  13. The struggle in the economy right now is a reality. Still, there are plenty of people still willing to travel to the US and buying a little less then they would prior do REAL`s devaluation against the Dollar. Again, it`s kind of a bid to make any big changes based only in the currency. We have had this situation in Brazil before and the in 12months everything can change.

    Remember most Brazilians don`t speak english so Azul has the advantage here. People are scared to face a flight with only american crew, although we know usually there are plenty of them that actually speak portuguese.

  14. This flight was not exactly a new flight: it was the same AA958, that used to operate 3x per week from GRU (777-200), which was always empty (way larger than the 767…). They were trying to fix it using a smaller plane and a new route (VCP is cheaper to operate than GRU). Additionally US$ x local currency jumped from 2.5 to almost 3.2 in few months, and brazil in running to a deep recession, so it may be a move to make an upfront adjustment in supply.

  15. It was a stupid move from day one. VCP is NOT a São Paulo airport and can not — under any circumstance — be considered a co-terminal. It is not only far, but extremely expensive to get to as it is in entirely another city (Campinas). Not to mention that it is a tiny dump. Nobody from São Paulo would consider flying out of it except for novelty’s sake, maybe once. And since it’s also not a connection hub of any sorts (in- or out-bound), then it is only useful for the 12 rich families that live nearby. The genius who thought this up should be demoted to the mailroom. I knew this day was come, but I’m surprised they didn’t pull the plug earlier.

  16. @A.S.: Would you mind sharing where are you from/what planet do you live? By the stupidity of your comments I could not figure it out.

  17. I have a friend who is very senior at UA. When I ask him about certain routes and if they make money, I am wrong most of the time. Unless you have the numbers, you probably have no idea. This particular goes for travel bloggers.

  18. Hi A.S.

    Not sure if you have been in the new terminal at VCP or in the MIA-VCP flight. It was packed with no seats available when i flew end of Feb. The flight serves mainly business travelers. As a matter fact, I would suspect VCP would be a great hub for traveling from South East Asia. Brazil has tax breaks for local manufacturing so most tech companies and their partners have manufacturing, logistics hubs along the main highways.

  19. I find it sunny when I put “Sao Paulo” and the engines give me VCP. It’s it NOT NEAR Sao Paulo at all. Don’t see any reason to have this route either.

  20. For clarification:
    Based on internationally accepted terminology for airspace control, the Viracopos Airport which is located in the City of Campinas (100 km from the city of Sao Paulo) is considered a Sao Paulo Terminal, as is GRU which is in the city of Guarulhos, adjacent to the City of Sao Paulo. The Sao Paulo City airport is Congonhas.

    Campinas is a city of one million inhabitants and the greater Campinas Metropolitan region , over 3 million..

    Viracopos Airport was the international airport (Passengers) until GRU was built. Then most international passenger flights changed from VCP to GRU. In the meantime VCP remained and grew as a cargo hub.

    More than 5 years ago David Neeleman, founder of Azul Airlines chose Campinas and Viracopos as the basis for his operations using the existing passenger terminal now called T0. Two years ago construction started on a new terminal now called T1.

    As of December 2014, AA, Azul, Copa airlines , Gol Airlines and TAP use T1 for international flights.
    T0 continues to handle domestic flights for Azul, Gol and TAM and will do so until completion of T1.

    For more about Campinas http://youtu.be/I1HytEMoX_I

  21. I was booked in this route and they reruted me via MIA. Since they canceled the flight I was booked without even letting me know do I have the right to chose any other rutting? Like JFK/GRU for example?

    Thanks!

  22. @ Lucas Cabral — In theory if there’s a compelling reason, you could definitely make the case I think. I’d try calling American if there’s another routing you prefer.

  23. Florida is the US destination of choice for Brazilians.
    Azul Airlines announced extra direct flights from Viracopos / Orlando in addition to the regular scheduled daily flight.

    AA serves Orlando from Viracopos thru MIA.

  24. Wow! Surprised at all the negative comments. Anyone who knows a bit more about Campinas knows that it is growing quickly, is a tremendous manufacturing hub for many, many multinationals, and that it is a good alternative to Guarulhos. Traffic to downtown Sao Paulo is murder. Viracopos won’t always be the better option, but it occasionally will. And, if you have business in Campinas — increasingly common — this is perfect. I just opened an office in Campinas and couldn’t be happier with the choice. This is a great move by American. Self-interested? You bet, but it would make sense regardless of that.

  25. When is the new 767 business class actually coming to the MIA-VCP route…???? Meanwhile seatmap shows teaser but you get onto old plane upon boarding. Anyone else notice this?

  26. The Miami to Viracopos route did not stick around for very long after all. News in Brazilian media is that AA will drop this route effective Feb-11-2016.

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