Big in Brazil

Sebastian Schmitz visits São Paulo/Guarulhos – South America’s biggest airport – as it looks to expand further and details why it’s third time lucky for the continent’s most densely populated city.

São Paulo is Brazil’s economic powerhouse and its largest city, ballooning from a population of 2.3m in 1950 to more than 21.8m people in 2019. Multibillion-dollar companies including Ambev also call the megacity home. With almost 10% of Brazil’s total population living in the city and its suburbs, São Paulo needs a large, well connected airport just to keep going. But keeping abreast of the city’s air transport needs hasn’t been easy.

A gaggle of GOL Boeing 737-800s parked at Terminal 2. The Rio de Janeiro-based carrier is Guarulhos’ second largest airline.
All images author unless stated

One City, Three Airports

Three hubs currently connect São Paulo to the world. The oldest, Congonhas, opened in 1936 and is located on the top of a hill, surrounded by urban sprawl with houses nestled up against its perimeters.

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