By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The International Airport of Rio de Janeiro/Galeão – Antonio Carlos Jobim, Rio’s only international airport, has appeared in a list as one of the country’s most unsatisfactory airports according to passengers. In a survey by the Department of Civil Aviation it was rated as one of the top three worst busiest airports in Brazil along with Cuiabá, in Mato Grosso, and Salvador, in Bahia.
Customers noted poor service, bad acoustics and a poor selection of food and drink in their criticisms of Galeão. Parking was expensive and the wifi in the airport, as well as many others, was considered slow and unsatisfactory. Queuing time, immigration and customs and luggage-handling, however, scored better.
It is not the first time Galeão has met criticism and appeared in similar lists. Ahead of this year’s Olympic Games it is undergoing extensive renovations and improvements to improve its service and meet the projected increased demand. Over two million passengers are expected to pass through the airport over the Games’ period.
The Brazilian Office of Airport Infrastructure, Infraero, took over the maintenance, operating activities and expansion of the airport in 2014 as part of a 25-year contract totaling R$5 billion of investment. Of that, R$2 billion has been earmarked to be spent before August’s Olympics with the current work is due to finish in April.
A new car park has been built with 2,700 parking spaces over four floors. Expected to open this month, it will offer a valet service, as well as direct, elevator-free access to Terminal 2. Long-stay parking will be up to 85 percent cheaper, and 24-hour CCTV and security patrols will ensure passengers’ safety.
“Our intention is to give visitors a first-class airport with modern facilities, that is sophisticated, agile, reliable and, above all, safe. RIOgaleão is transforming the Tom Jobim International Airport, each time surprising and improving the experience of those who pass by here,” said Sandro Fernandes, commercial director of the company.
The company says the new garage building and walkways are in the process of being waterproofed using high-tech, environmentally friendly tri-polymer materials that are both elastic and are UV resistance. They have a life expectancy of over twenty years, can be finished in various colors and set quickly.
Inside the airport building, much of the infrastructure is being improved with, for example, more elevators and moving walkways. A better selection of shops and restaurants are opening up and the overall comfort is being assessed. Indoors, thanks to a new air-conditioning system, the temperature is now regulated at 24 degrees. It is housed in three buildings of three floors each and uses 2.5 million liters of water – enough to fill two Olympic swimming pools. It costs in excess of R$3 million to run each month.
Galeão began operations in 1924 as a home for the Naval Aviation School. In 1977 it opened to commercial flights, with the ability to receive six million passengers per year. In 1992 it was completely overhauled. A second terminal was added increasing its capacity significantly.