Brazil inaugurates new airport terminal

Updated: 2014-05-26 03:41

By ZHANG FAN in Sao Paulo (China Daily Latin America)

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Brazil inaugurates new airport terminal

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said at the inauguration ceremony of Terminal 3 of Sao Paulo International Airport (GRU) on May 20 that GRU will become the name card of Brazil. Zhang Fan / China Daily

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be officially opened in less than one month, Brazil finally completed its biggest infrastructure project, the new Terminal 3 of Sao Paulo's international airport.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff inaugurated the terminal on May 20 with representatives from the government, airport, media and also staff members of the terminal present at the ceremony.

The airport with the new terminal will be a "name card" for Brazil, and will welcome all tourists from other countries, Rousseff said at the ceremony.

"I want to thank all the people who have contributed to Terminal 3, such as the construction workers, local government and also friends from the media. The new terminal will not only benefit world tourists in general, but also provide Brazilian travelers with better facilities and services," she said.

Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport, or GRU, is one of the largest in Latin America with 10 domestic and 41 international carriers and served about 36 million passengers in 2013. Brazil is expected to welcome more than 600,000 international visitors during the June 12-July 13 FIFA World Cup.

Terminal 3, which was officially operating on May 11, is 192,000 square kilometers (2.1 million square feet), slightly larger than terminals 1, 2 and 4 combined, and has the capacity to receive as many as 12 to 14 million passengers a year.

The terminal's cathedral-height interior dwarfs terminals 1 and 2, built with concrete and one strip of skylight in 1985. Workers will renovate the existing terminals, which will be dedicated to domestic flights. The new terminal also has special security facilities, including 350 facial identification cameras located throughout the building to identify criminals and prevent robberies at the airport.

To accelerate the construction of the infrastructure projects preparing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazilian government sold the operation right of three major airports in Brazil for $14.3 billion in total, including the Sao Paulo's international airport which is now jointly operated by a Brazilian transport infrastructure group named Invepar and Airport South Africa.

Eight international carriers have moved to Terminal 3, including Air China, the country's largest state-owned aviation enterprise. The airport said the terminal will eventually handle all the international flights to Sao Paulo.

"A larger airport can help us provide better service to our passengers," said Tang Wenkai, the general manager of Air China in Brazil. Tang said the new terminal allows Air China to use larger airplanes with much more space for luggage. Air China has two China-Brazil roundtrip flights each week with almost 500 passengers each week.

He said that Air China has been thinking about increasing the number of flights from China to Brazil because the country is becoming a popular destination for Chinese due to the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2016 Olympic Games and closer economic ties between the two countries. "We hopefully will increase our frequency between the World Cup and Olympic Games," said Tang.

Cai Xujiao, the deputy general manager of an electric tech company from Xiamen, China, is one of the first group of passengers enjoying the service of Terminal 3.

"I come to Brazil because there is a growing market of electric lighting technology here and I think I will be back again to further explore potential opportunities," said Cai, adding that the new terminal looks very advanced and comfortable.

According to the Global Market Forecast 2013-2032, the number of Chinese tourists coming to South America will increase by 7.2 percent.

Brazil is one of the farthest destinations from China, with more than 18,000 kilometers between the capitals of the two countries. Air China is the only carrier with direct flights between Beijing and Sao Paulo, with a flying time of 23 hours.

"This is my first time to visit China and I am very excited about it," said Shirley Pinheiro, the team leader of a group of eight Brazilian dancers. "We will provide Chinese audiences with Brazilian art shows such as samba."

Pinheiro said she chose Air China because "we want to land in China as soon as possible and they have the fastest airline."

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