It was certainly good for business right in the beggining, specially because this flight was well-supported by an aggressive marketing campaign in Brazil.
However, the economic meltdown in Asia in middle 90´s plus VARIG´s reestructuring process in that same occasion, that involved the return of its 2 747-400, and the advance of the world alliances, which facilitated passenger exchange in major hubs through specialized markets within major carriers, turned the Rio / São Paulo / Johannesburg / Bangkok / Hong Kong a troubled and cash-loosing route.
Interesting enough, VARIG also considered, in 1996 if I´m not mistaken, the possibility to add Beijing in this same route. Pretty crazy management, eh?
The fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline business is to start as a billionaire.