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CGH - Congonhas Airport - The Biggest In Brazil  
User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Posted (10 years 7 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3796 times:

Unknown to mots foreigners, CGH (Sao Paulo Domestic, CONGONHAS) is the biggest airport in Brazil (in fact, also the biggest in South America!), measured by pax volume and aircraft movement. It's followed closely by GRU (Sao Paulo International, GUARULHOS) - 2003 statistics.

INFRAERO (Brazilian Aiport Authority) is currently considering to divert domestic flights from CGH to GRU. CGH would only operate the "ponte aerea"/air shuttle flights to SDU (Rio Domestic, Santos Dummont).

In September this year, INFRAERO carried out a similar decision when it decided to divert domestic flights from SDU (Rio Domestic, Santos Dummont) to GIG (Rio International, Galeao). As of September, SDU only operates the "ponte aerea" Rio-Sao Paulo (SDU-CGH). This has brought more confort to passenger in SDU, and created a spill-over effect in GIG, which saw its passenger traffic increased by 50 to 60%, attracting more domestic and international flights. GIG also regained its status of third biggest airport in Brazil. Of coure, with more flights it also helped the city to attract more business and tourism.

Some figures why I support diverting domestic flights from CGH to GRU:

1) The "ponte aerea" (air shuttle) flights CGH-SDU, is the busiest in the world, and in itself already keeps the airport extremely busy;
2) Due to its central location, CGH is also largely used for private business operations: Sao Paulo has the world's 2nd biggest business jet fleet, and the 2nd biggest helicopter fleet in the world;

The reasons above are enough to keep CGH focused on the ponte aerea and private jets operations. By diverting domestic flights to GRU, this would increase the role of GRU as a major gateway for flights, easing domestic connections from international flights, therefore, bringing more comfort to passengers. GRU would also become one of the biggest airport in the world, probably ranking no. 30.


24 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineRafabozzolla From Brazil, joined Apr 2000, 1269 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (10 years 7 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3746 times:

OK, but you forgot the simple most basic reasons why it won't happen (at least not for now).

1-First fase of expansion has just been finished at Congonhas (horrible add on, destroying the lovely 1950's architecture of the building).

2-Due to Infraero's twisted and miopic management GRU was (and still is) neglected for years, only getting some emergency upgrades, so it does not have the capacity (runway or terminal) to get the flights from CGH.

The shift of flights from SDU to GIG was POLITICAL, in an attempt to make up for the millions of dollars invested in a needless second terminal. According to Infraero this will increase critical mass at GIG and (hopefully for them) divert traffic and pax from congested GRU. Some how at Infraero they thought that increasing capacity at GIG would magically steer airlines away from GRU (at one point there was even talk about forcing int'l carries to shift operations to Rio by force of law!).

Don't forget that a good chunck of Infraero's and the DAC (Brazilian FAA so to speak) management is made up from air force members, most of them form Rio, and doing all they can to make their city regain their lost status as most important air hub in the country. One should never underestimate the potencial fo stupidity the military can yeld.

User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 2, posted (10 years 7 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3715 times:


I know what you mean by former air force member meddling in airlines and/or airport management.

I totally agree with you that the "super" expansion of GIG was unnecessary. INFRAERO also expanded a good number of secondary airports, which now have state of the art terminals, e.g. BSB, BEL, FOR, REC, CWB, just to name a few.

And what about GRU???? Completelly forgotten. As you said, they had this narrow idea that by upgrading other airports, including GIG, traffic would flow naturally out of GRU to other airports. As we can notice, this did not happen and now GRU is an old and run down airport, operating in full capacity!

Some photos of busy-busy CGH:

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Gustavo Kaufmann
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Photo © Fabio Laranjeira

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Photo © Paulo Herren - Jumpseat Team
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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Carlos A. Morillo Doria

Still, in the long term I think CGH will only operate the ponte-aerea and business jets. CGH cannot accommodate for more flights, as it is " literally" in the middle of the city! CPQ will also end up receiving a big shunk of flights.

Regards  Smile


User currently offlineRafabozzolla From Brazil, joined Apr 2000, 1269 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 7 months 23 hours ago) and read 3644 times:

OK, now we start to speak the same language. Maybe in the long run this will happen, but apart from expanding GRU (wich btw lacks some facilities but is not that run down) better access is needed. There has been some talk about linking Guarulhos to the subway system, but knowing how these things work in Brazil let's just see if it acctually happens.

PS: I'd love to see GRU as the most important airport in LA too (and amogst the top 30 in the world)!

User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 4, posted (10 years 7 months 13 hours ago) and read 3590 times:

ok, Rafa!

It would be great to see a metro link between GRU and CGH!


User currently offlineMunich From Germany, joined Mar 2002, 155 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (10 years 7 months 13 hours ago) and read 3584 times:

Hardiwv, where did you get the 2003-statistics?

Have you a link or can you give me the accurate pax-numbers.

In 2002 GRU was a little bit bigger in pax-numbers as CGH (GRU 12.804.091 to CGH 12.562.319)

Regards! Robert alias munich
User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 6, posted (10 years 7 months 12 hours ago) and read 3569 times:

As requested, here is the data of pax numbers in Brazil.

In 2003 the 10 top airports (pax movements) in Brazil were:

1 Sao Paulo, CGH = 9.9M
2 Sao Paulo, GRU = 9.5M
3 Brasilia, BSB = 5.6M
4 Rio de Janeiro, SDU = 4.5M
5 Rio de Janeiro, GIG = 3.9M
6 Salvador, SSA = 2.9M
7 Belo Horizonte, PLU = 2.5M
8 Porto Alegre, POA = 2.4M
9 Recife, REC = 2.3M
10 Curitiba, CWB = 2.1M

As I said before, we can expect some changes in this table in 2004, especially with regard to the fact that GIG had its traffic increased in 50-60%. Probably GIG will rank no. 3, and SDU will fall to no. 10.


User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 7, posted (10 years 7 months 12 hours ago) and read 3567 times:


This is the website (with English info):


The official website from INFRAERO only presents the info in Portuguese.


User currently offlineEMB195ER From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 254 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (10 years 7 months 11 hours ago) and read 3564 times:

Hello guys!

I would like to add some comments here:

01 - Actually there is a never end study to like GRU with São Paulo not by subway, but by a dedicated train line which would stop in one or two subway stations on its way to the Airport. As far as I know, they are still studying the viability of it.

02 - Some years ago INFRAERO attempted to divert many flights from GRU to GIG and I remember that Mario Covas (who had already passed on) had a meeting with INFRAERO managers and due to its political influence stopped this weird idea.

03 - There is also some speculation about transfering some international flights from GRU to CPQ. Can you guys imagine how awful it would be? After a long international flight you would have to spend, depending on the traffic, 1 or 2 ours to arrive in São Paulo?

04 - Guys, I know that those improvements in CGH destroyed part of its lovely archiqueture, however the new airbridges are very practical and comfortable. Two weeks ago I flew to SDU via CGH and used them. It was amazing.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

05 - Does anybody know anything about the status of the third terminal at GRU?

06 - I think there is a bigger strategic mistake than GIG. It is named CNF. Have you guys already been there? I was there last year and it is a pitty to see such a big airport with only 8 or 10 flights a day. Instead of diverting flights at CGH, i think they should do it at PLU first.

Have a good day, guys!!!


PS: I am going to MVD tomorrow any suggestions about the city?

User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 9, posted (10 years 7 months 9 hours ago) and read 3535 times:

Hey, EMB195ER:

Are the bridges (fingers) in CGH ready?? It should look awesome...cant' wait to use them in my next trip to Brazil!!!!  Smile

How is the expansion in CGH going? I thought it would be ready only in 2007, or maybe I'm confusing the dates with the expansion of SDU?


User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (10 years 7 months 9 hours ago) and read 3526 times:

I have traveled to Brazil a lot and this may be a stupid question but why are all international flights into GRU? Customs? Is CGH more of a domestic airport for Brazil?

User currently offlineZrb2 From United States of America, joined May 2000, 902 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (10 years 7 months 9 hours ago) and read 3524 times:

I bought the GOL dvd a few months ago and enjoy seeing the action in and out of CGH. I've never been to South America but from a pilot's perspective (per the dvd)...it looks like a fascinating airport to fly into and out of. The urban landscape surrounding the runways are very dramatic and it appears that the airport itself sits on higher ground than the surrounding area. is that right? Hopefully I'll get down there someday to see this airport for myself!

User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 12, posted (10 years 7 months 8 hours ago) and read 3514 times:


Just read the other posts above: CGH, although an airport with international status, only operates domestic flights in Brazil. It's location is literally in the middle of the city-centre in Sao Paulo. An aircraft approach in CGH is something awesome, as the airport is surrounded by skyscrapers...it's like as if you would have an airport in the middle of Manhattan!  Smile

As such, you cannot have big inter-continental aircraft operating in CGH. Second, the airport does not even have the capacity to handle more flights. Only the air shuttle Rio-Sao Paulo already keeps the airport very busy.

GRU receives all the international traffic + some domestic flights, and CPQ handles most of the Cargo traffic.


Also have friends that bought the GOL dvd and they told me it is really nice. GOL is a big operator in CGH.


User currently offlineRafabozzolla From Brazil, joined Apr 2000, 1269 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (10 years 7 months ago) and read 3449 times:


I am from Belo Horizonte and I know what you mean. According to Infraero, the change will happen here as well, and flights should be transferred from PLU to CNF as of march. Here in BH the idea is to shift all interstate flights to Confins (Pampulha would still get flights from other cities in Minas Gerais state). The local business community strongly opposes the measure, after all the airport is 45km from downtown and the roads aren't that good.

This is another example of the level of short-sightedness typical of Infraero. In order to "attract" airlines to CNF, PLU as literally abandoned for 20 years. So now here in my city there is an airport with a capacity of 5m pax/year getting about one tenth that figure, whereas Pampulha could comfortably handle no more than 1.5m but gets almost 3m a year.

User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3434 times:


Thanks! That was a great answer!

Yea Sao Paulo is a huge city, I can't imagine flying into the middle of it. That has to be cool. I am looking to book a flight with Varig for maybe late December. I will keep all posted.

User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 15, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3388 times:


Good luck and enjoy Brazil!


To be very honest, I support INFRAERO's decision to divert traffic from PLU to CNF. You simply cannot have an airport in the middle of a big city like Belo Horizonte handling more than 3M pax! That's not real!! PLU should only keep limited flight operations. At the end, more flights in CNF will be good for everybody, as the city will attract more flights and even international flights (remeber that AA operated flights MIA-GIG-CNF until some time ago).
Of course everbody will like to have an aiport in the centre of the town, but that's not practical. You also have to see that PLU cannot grow anymore.

The divertion of flights from SDU to GIG was extremely successful.

Take care,

User currently offlineEMB195ER From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 254 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3375 times:


I think the expansion project at CGH is already done and the air bridges are operational since four or five months ago.

I want to see works starting at GRU. I think the third terminal will be amazing and I beat JJ and RG would fight to see who will move to this new area.



User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3357 times:


Don't you worry, been there 4 times and I enjoy it more every time! Natal was so nice! SP is a bit much but the country is beautiful!

User currently offlineErikwilliam From Brazil, joined Mar 2004, 2152 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3352 times:

Hey guys, nice topic Hardi.
ZRB2: Yes, the airport is in a higher ground, grandpa was in the Air Force and (according to my mom) worked for a long time in operations in CGH and the area was builted to be like that.
The thing is, CGH is quite old airport as GRU is quite new, it opend in the early 80´s.
Due to it´s central position, CGH is awesome for regional trafic here, since one can get to the business areas quite fastar than if landed at GRU, and people that visited or live in SP knows the shitty traffic we have.
GRU is too small to get the CGH flights, it would be the double of pax in GRU if CGH was closed was redirected, and the acess to GRU is horrible, there´s no way U can get to GRU fast if U are on Av.Paulista, the finnancial center here, unless one uses a chopper, for ex.

GIG will never gets GRU traffic for just one reason, SP is the economy heart of Brazil, and the most business are in SP, way more than Rio and most headquarters of intl. companies are in SP, not saying there isn´t others around Brazil, but most are here.

Government acts sometimes crazy here, and this hole Airport fever fells a bit odd sometimes. Like Belem do Para, wich is a airport in a state that doesn´t the same importance as SP had a reform in the airport, and GRU, that´s the HUB of Brazil didn´t get a decent or meaningfull reform or anything.
Infraer has to concentrate more to GRU, there´s the need of a new and more modern terminal, a train to connect GRU and the city, better facilities etc etc.

My point of view is: Brazilian government needs more professionalism on tings, and not letting the "air scenario" in the hands of military personal.
That´s the way I see it.

HArdi, next time U´r here I´ll pay U a Brahma.  Big thumbs up

Dida, Cafu, Lucio, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlo, Emerson, Ze Roberto, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano, Robinho, Ronaldo
User currently offlineRafabozzolla From Brazil, joined Apr 2000, 1269 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 3296 times:


I am not that simplistic and I do now that now it seems like a logical step to move the flights. The problem is that it was wrong from the ground up. Confins was not built out of necessity but for a very simple reason: Corruption.

I had access to inside information from the contractors responsible for Confins and believe me, some people made real money with that airport (and I don't mean the people who built it, understand me?).

If PLU had not been neglected and all the improvements were made at the proper time it would easily handle its traffic, after all 3m a year is not that much. Just to give U an example: Did you know that Pampulha doesn't even have a taxiway? Yes, planes have to backtrack along the runway.

I rest my case.

User currently offlineNeo From Brazil, joined Jan 2001, 672 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 3279 times:

Interesting topic!


I do agree with Hardi that at some point the traffic from CGH will have be diverted to GRU. The thing is GRU needs major improvements, along with the contruction of new facilities like the new terminal.

The upgrading in CGH is not completed yet. These new jetways are part of the first phase, the second one will add the rest of the jetways and final facilities improvements.


Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes of INFRAERO. It's a shame to see the empty facilities and lack of service into that airport. The airport is very far from downtown , about 44km. I believe that it will be much harder to make a sucessful change of traffic from PLU to CNF... I really think this is not going to happen anytime soon. Imagine, how much trouble this can cause.. I'm not so sure about it anyway...


I think this was a great move and will do very good for GIG. It might attrack more intl traffic and it will be great for pax transiting through brazil and going abroad.

I'm from Vitoria, state of Espirito Santo, and INFRAERO is going to start works for the upgrading of VIX in Nov. The existing runaway will be extended in 300m and a second runway will be built to handle bigger aircrats such as widebodies, 777, 747, etc.. A new terminal with capacity for up to 3m pax with 6 jetways, which will allow further growth for VIX. Today the airport is among of the 15 most busiest ones in Brazil with 1,4m pax in 2003 and is also one of the fastest growing in terms of pax.



User currently offlinePzurita1 From Greenland, joined Sep 2002, 1400 posts, RR: 13
Reply 21, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3245 times:


I find quite interesting such decreases for all Brazilian airports between 2002 and 2003.

Quoting your own figures posted here and in other thread about Latin American aviation future...

GIG and SSA decreased 33% (!)
GRU decreased 25% (!)
CGH and BSB decreased 21%
SDU decreased 15%


May be you are using different concepts quoting these figures. It seems such an alarming decrease not to be explained by any economic crisis nor a recovery.

May be you listed domestic pax for 2003????


Next flight: IAH-DBX-MRU-ANT
User currently offlineNeo From Brazil, joined Jan 2001, 672 posts, RR: 6
Reply 22, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 3202 times:

Pzurita 1:

These figures are probably for the whole year of 2003.... that's why there is such decrease in all airports listed.

Maybe Hardi, can explain this better.



User currently offlineAirbrasil From Brazil, joined Nov 2003, 205 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3173 times:

Hello Friends,

For those that dont live in Brasil and dont need to work at GIG needs to relize that the biggest mistake that INFRAERO made on transfering flight from SDU to GIG is safety! Almost daily, passengers on cars and busses are attacked by drug dealers on nearby favelas that are driving on the "Linha Vermelha Freeway" from the airport. At night is even wrost since cops are never visible and shootings are very normal. It is a shame that tourists that arrive in Brasil have to deal with this kind of unsecurity. Before the government decides to force airlines to change flights to GIG they need to spend money on sefety. Flying to SDU is so much quicker since you are close to downtown and you can go to other areas of the city quickely and a little more safer. Take a look at the Rio newspapers daily and confirm what I am saying.



User currently offlineHardiwv From Brazil, joined Oct 2004, 8780 posts, RR: 47
Reply 24, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3122 times:


Thanks for pointing out my mistake. The figures are for up to until September! This explains the decrease! From 2002 to 2003 there was an actual increase in pax traffic in Brazil (7% international and 11% domestic)!

As soon as I get the final figures for 2003 I will post them here.


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