By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A Lufthansa flight originating from Frankfurt officially inaugurated Terminal 3 at São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) on Sunday morning, Latin America’s busiest airport. The new terminal was designed to receive eighty percent of all international flights coming into South America’s largest city.
The construction of the airport’s third terminal was started in 2012, the same year the airport was privatized. GRU officials say the construction of Terminal 3 as well as the improvements made at Terminals 1, 2 and 4 has so far cost R$2.9 billion.
“Lufthansa is very proud to be the first to land at the new terminal and we have perceived that an extraordinary value was added for the passengers,” said Stephan Semsch, Lufthansa´s director of operations and airport services for Latin America.
According to Antonio Miguel Marques, president of GRU airport, “Terminal 3 represents a change of paradigm in airport infrastructure in the country. Starting now, passenger experience at the airport will be different, especially in regards to operational efficiency, quality of service, comfort and security.”
Passengers arriving on Sunday, however, found some bathrooms with no running water, delays in the baggage delivery system, inoperative moving walkways and signs warning of leaking roofs. According to GRU Airport press corps minor problems in such a large project are expected and adjustments are being made on a daily basis so as to make passenger experience the best possible.
This week another two carriers, Swiss Airlines and TAP, will be flying into the new terminal. By the start of the World Cup, on June 12th, eight international carriers will be landing at the new terminal, including Air Canada and China Airlines.
According to airport officials, the third terminal should help reduce the overcrowding at the other older terminals as well. On any given day 250,000-300,000 people pass through the terminals. GRU Airport averages approximately 830 flights per day, and officials say they expect to receive up to twelve million passengers per year at the new terminal.
The new terminal has an area of 192,000 square meters and two patios equipped to accommodate 34 aircraft. There are ninety check-in booths in addition to 26 self-service check-in stands for passengers to quickly obtain their boarding passes and head towards the gates. For Mr. Semch, the greater comfort and faster check-ins are the highlight of the new facility.
Arriving passengers will be able to retrieve their baggage in one of the seven baggage carrousels located in the new terminal. The carrousels have the capacity to hold 5,500 bags. Reports also indicate 52 of the 108 stores planned for the new terminal are already operating.
The terminal’s architecture was also designed to prioritize natural lighting, allowing for a significant reduction of energy consumption and the maintenance of internal gardens with native vegetation. Keeping with the sustainable architectural design mode, Terminal 3 has rainwater collectors, which will supply water to the bathrooms.