RIO DE JANEIRO — With the end of the Olympic Games, the Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport hit a passenger traffic record, while simultaneously receiving giants like Air France’s Airbus A380, and Lufthansa, British Airways, Qantas and United Airlines Boeing 747s.

Last August 22, the day after the closure of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the airport experienced a surge in passenger traffic, with 85,000 people, exceeding in more than two times the peak during normal days. Also, the airport registered about 430 takeoffs and landings.

Among the passengers, 7,500 were part of the Olympic teams (athletes and accredited staff), representing approximately 28,000 pieces of baggage. To avoid an overload at the check-in counters, the airport administration advised passengers with international flights to arrive to check in six hours earlier, and in the case of domestic flights, two hours before the departure time.

The airport also reinforced its staff with 135 extra employees, together with the support of the volunteers who worked at the airport.

To optimize the flow of passengers, the 174 check-in counters of the the airport had the support of a satellite check-in counter located in the Olympic village. There, the delegations were able to check-in. The baggage was transported to the airport, using trucks under the responsibility of the Rio 2016 Committee. This enabled the Olympic delegations to arrive to the airport straight to security screening.

The end of the Olympic Games was the first major test for the newly opened Pier South at Galeão (a  100,000 sqm expansion of Terminal 2, which added 26 new boarding gates). On August 22, the airport received a myriad of aircraft, from operators all over the world, which definitively are a treat for avgeeks!

Planespotters gathered on the Apron, waiting for the arrival of the Air France Airbus A380. (Credits: Author)
Planespotters gathered on the Apron, waiting for the arrival of the Air France Airbus A380. (Credits: Author)

Among the visitors Galeão received was Air France’s Airbus A380, which made the first commercial flight ever to Rio (F-HPJJ • MSN 117), and was welcomed with the traditional water cannon salute, and by dozens of planespotters who recorded the arrival.

This Air France Airbus A380-800 was the first Superjumbo to visit Rio de Janeiro in commercial service. (Credits: Author)
This Air France Airbus A380-800 was the first Superjumbo to visit Rio de Janeiro in commercial service. (Credits: Author)

Shortly before the arrival of the A380, the airport received three Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8s, including Fanhansa Siegerflieger (D-ABYI • MSN 37833 • LN 1475) which carried the winning team of the 2014 World Cup and the Olympia Mannschaft Siegerflieger (D -ABYK • MSN 37835 • LN 1480), which took home most of the German Olympic team.

Three Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 dominate the early morning scene in Rio de Janeiro. (Credits: Author)
Three Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 dominate the early morning scene in Rio de Janeiro. (Credits: Author)

British Airways, Qantas Airways and United Airlines also brought 747s to bring their nationals home. Other carriers such as Air China, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, KLM Korean Air and SWISS brought their Boeing 777s. Interestingly, Aeroflot brought two aircraft to Rio —a Boeing 777-300ER and an Airbus A330-200.

Air Algerie, which brought an Airbus A330-200 was perhaps one of the most exotic visitors. Also Austrian Airlines and its Boeing 767-300 was a major highlight.

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Among the smaller aircraft, two Czech Republic Air Force Airbus A319CJ and a Travel Service Boeing 737-800 were in charge of bringing their national team home.

This Czech Republic-based Boeing 737-800 was perhaps one of the smallest and most exotic visitors to Rio during the Olympic games. (Credits: Author)
This Czech Republic-based Boeing 737-800 was perhaps one of the smallest and most exotic visitors to Rio during the Olympic games. (Credits: Author)

In November 2014, Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport became the first Brazilian airport authorized by the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) to receive “F” category flights (Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8), after undergoing through a major update that included the new South Pier, which has three special jetways to handle these type of aircraft.

Back in August 2014, a 25-year concession of Galeão was granted to RIOgaleão, a consortium constituted by Brazil’s Odebrecht TransPort, Singapore’s Changi Airports International and state-owned Infraero, the previous airport operator. RIOgaleão will invest R$ 5.2 billion (to date, R$ 2 billion have been invested already.)


The author would like to thank RIOgaleão for the invitation to cover the arrival of the Airbus A380 of Air France and other charter flights received by the airport after the end of the Olympic Games.