By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – So as not to disturb sailing competitions around Guanabara Bay, Brazil’s Air Force has announced that from Monday, August 8th to August 18th, Santos Dumont will be closed for landings and take-offs between the hours of 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM. The airport’s runways sit right next to the waters of the Guanabara Bay.
Those arriving or leaving Rio during those hours will have to go to the city’s Tom Jobim International (GIG) Airport. To compensate for the four hour closings the airport, which caters mostly to domestic flights, has extended its operation hours to between 6AM and 11:59 PM.
Usually the airport’s operation closed at 10:30 PM. Executive planes, which have been prohibited from operating during the Rio Olympics will be allowed to arrive and depart from Santos Dumont from 11PM to 5:59 AM, according to the Air Force.
The Aviation Secretary, under Brazil’s Ministry of Transport, said more than 2.87 million passengers arrived in Brazil from July 31st to August 6th, most to see the Olympics. More than 595,000 passengers passed through Rio’s two airports with more than 9,250 planes arriving and taking off during that same period.
Security has been beefed up for the Olympics and Paralympic games in Rio in August and September. In the middle of July Brazil’s National Aviation Agency (ANAC) implemented extra security measures for domestic flights, mirroring safety precautions taken on international flights, such as stricter hand-luggage spot checks and random passenger body checks.
In addition to the thousands of international visitors expected to fly into the Santos Dumont airport for the games, athletes and personnel from the hundreds of foreign sports delegations also have passed through the domestic airport.