This article will give you an overview of the major Brazilian airports and the current capacity and work that is under way in order to upgrade their potential.
For years, infrastructure bottlenecks have been one of Brazil's biggest problems as growing airline travel has put strains on the current airports.
A report by McKinsey and Co concluded that seven of Brazil's 20 principal airports are struggling with overcrowding in both passenger areas and plane berths that frequently led to delays or cancelled flights.
The same report estimated that Brazil's airports had a capacity for 126 million passengers per year, with an existing demand of 111 million that will rise to 146 million by 2014. During the World Cup alone, there are expected as many as 6 million additional travellers moving through the Brazilian airports.
Guarulhos International Airport, São Paulo
Guarulhos International Airport is Brazil's busiest airport with 19,626,643 passengers and 209,636 aircraft movements every year.
This airport was put in the world's third place by Forbes magazine regarding the number of delayed flights .
There is currently a BRL 1,489.5 million investment plan being executed in order to up-grade Guarulhos International Airport, focusing on the preparations for the World Cup. The upgrades will include:
- Construction of further taxiways
- Enlargement of apron and taxiways
- Construction of a new passenger terminal
The new terminal is planned to add another 12 million passenger capacity.
Congonhas, São Paulo
Congonhas Airport is Brazil's second busiest airport with 11,336,069 passengers and 193,308 aircraft movements every year and Brazil's most important domestic airport.
The airport was first planned in 1919 and over the last decade, it has been considered Brazil's most controversial airport with major safety concerns, especially after the TAM Airlines Flight 3054 accident in July 2007 in which 199 people were killed.
Currently Congonhas airport is handling up to 34 aircraft movements an hour while the capacity of the airport is 24 aircraft movements per hour.
There is currently a BRL 164.7 million investment plan being executed in order to up-grade Congonhas Airport, focusing on the preparations for the World Cup. The upgrades will include:
- New control tower
- Renovation of the apron
- Renovation of the passenger terminal
One year after the investment plan was introduced, it's already falling behind on the time schedule. The option of shutting down Congonhas Airport is often discussed in the Brazilian media, often based on safety concerns due to the short runway without any option to extend or create any safety distance around the runway. At the moment, there is no political will to shutdown Congonhas Airport.
Brasília International Airport, Brasília
Brasília International Airport is Brazil's third busiest airport with 10,337,680 passengers and 162,349 aircraft movements every year. Brasília International Airport is also considered to be Brazil's most modern airport.
Although the airport is named Brasília International Airport, there are a limited number of international routes operating from the airport. Outside South America, there are only direct international flights to Miami, Atlanta and Lisbon.
There is currently a BRL 514.8 million investment plan being executed in order to up-grade Brasília International Airport, focusing on the preparations for the World Cup. The upgrades will include:
- Enlargement of apron and taxiways
- Renovation of passenger terminal
Galeão International Airport, Rio de Janeiro
Galeão International Airport is Brazil's forth busiest airport with 8,884,556 passengers and 119,287 aircraft movements every year.
The airport has historically been the most important one in Brazil. As proof of its prestige, the airport was a destination for twice-weekly flights with a Concorde operated by Air France until 1982.
In 1985, the airport lost the title of the country's major international airport to Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo. Beside losing the international flights to São Paulo, Galeão International Airport has also lost much of its domestic flights to Santos Dumont.
Since 2004, the airport has gradually recovered its importance in the national and international spheres with an addition of flights and airlines.
Galeão International Airport is the only major airport in Brazil with spare capacity in terms of passenger numbers. There is currently a BRL819 million investment plan being executed to renovate the airport in order to make it a main hub for the World Cup and Summer Olympics.
Santos Dumont Airport, Rio de Janeiro
Santos Dumont Airport is Brazil's fifth busiest airport with 5,726,983 passengers and 97,075 aircraft movements every year.
The airport has an official capacity of 3,200,000 passengers per year and there have been several discussions in the recent years about how to reduce the traffic at the airport.
In late 2009, the Environment Institute ("Instituto Estadual do Ambiente") were putting strict limitations to the airport's operation in order to renew the operational license. This included reducing operating hours, limiting the maximum number of annual passengers and cancelling the use of an alternative approach route. After several rounds of negotiation, most of the limitations were put into action.
Due to a fire that almost destroyed the main terminal in 1999, a brand-new, modern extension of the original terminal was opened in 2007. There is currently a BRL152 million investment plan being executed in order to upgrade the airport for World Cup and Summer Olympics.