By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the Olympics over, Rio de Janeiro’s GIG Tom Jobim International Airport faced more than double its usual daily passenger transit on Monday (August 22nd), with nearly 85,000 passengers passing through its security gates. The city had expected nearly 500,000 international travelers throughout the Games, and many stayed until the end to watch the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night.
Many delegations left the city on Monday, and although the Olympic Committee had set up a mini airport check in at the Olympic Village for athletes and officials to obtain their boarding pass and check in their luggage, all foreigners and Brazilians alike still had to pass through security gates to get to the boarding areas. Halls of the airport remained full the entire day.
Rio’s airport authority, RIOgaleão, had asked visitors with scheduled international flights to arrive at least six hours in advance and to entertain those waiting the long hours at boarding gates officials invited the Mangueira samba school musicians to play for passengers.
“To assure the traveler that their trip home is pleasant and full of unforgettable memories, the concessionaire has taken several exceptional measures, organized a series of surprises for those passing through the airport terminals,” RIOgaleão officials told reporters. A large panel, placed at the departure area, invited athletes and visitors alike to write down their last goodbyes to the city and to the Olympics.
According to officials more than 25,000 pieces of luggage were put on more than 114 aircrafts leaving Rio. The main destinations on Monday for these aircrafts was Europe, but airplanes left throughout the day from the airport’s terminals to places such as far away and different as New York, Beijing, Panama and Tokyo.
The French Olympic delegation boarded an Air France A380 Airbus, the largest aircraft in the world. This was the first time the Airbus landed at Rio’s international airport, and keeping with tradition, the aircraft, able to hold up to 800 passengers, was ‘baptized’ on the runway with jets of water.
Among the larger aircrafts there were also chartered jets, including some of the most expensive jets in the world, like the Global Express, the Falcon and the Gulfstream.