IATA: Smooth start for Sao Paulo Guarulhos terminal 3

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The opening of terminal 3 at Sao Paulo Guarulhos International airport has gone smoothly, says TAM Holdings president Marco Antonio Bologna.

Only six carriers, including Lufthansa, Swiss and TAP Portugal, have moved into T3 since it opened on 11 May. Turkish Airlines, South African Airways, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Air China are scheduled to move in before the beginning of the World Cup on 12 June.

TAM plans to move its long-haul operations into T3 at Guarulhos by the end of September, says Bologna. Domestic and regional flights will remain in T2.

“We’re very optimistic about the future of that airport,” he says at IATA Annual General Meeting in Doha.

Guarulhos is the primary hub for LATAM Airlines Group, which includes both LAN and TAM, in Latin America. The carriers plan to use the airport as their main connecting point between long-haul flights and regional flights in Latin America.

The carriers combined operate about 45% of the capacity through the airport, says Bologna.

Responding to previous comments by Star Alliance chief executive Mark Schwab that T3 is essentially an “O&D [origin and destination] terminal building”, Bologna says that LATAM will have facilities in place to facilitate transfers when it moves into the terminal.

T3 has increased capacity at the notoriously congested Guarulhos airport by 12 million to 42 million passengers annually, according to operator Concessionaria Aeroporto Internacional de Guarulhos.

The airport handled nearly 36 million passengers in 2013, according to the operator.

T3 is equipped with 22 contact gates for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 sized aircraft or 11 for larger Airbus A330 and A350, and Boeing 777 and 787 sized aircraft. It also includes nine remote parking positions.

Guarulhos could sport a third runway by 2020. Discussions are underway with the government and the runway could open by 2019 at the earliest, if it is approved, says Bologna.

A third runway would boost annual passenger capacity at Guarulhos to 70 million passengers a year, he says.