Sao Paulo and Campinas to open new terminals gradually

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The concession holder of the Sao Paulo Guarulhos International airport has confirmed that the new international terminal 3 will begin operations on 11 May.

The terminal will initially operate at a fraction of its 12 million passenger capacity.

TAP Portugal will operate the first flight to the new terminal, with service from Lisbon arriving at 05:35. The terminal will initially house Star Alliance airlines, including TAP, Lufthansa and Swiss.

Turkish Airlines, South African Airways, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Air China will also transfer their flights to terminal 3 before the World Cup begins in Brazil on 15 June.

Other airlines, including local market leader, Oneworld carrier TAM, will not move until September into T3, which will exclusively serve international flights.

"We are phasing in operations gradually at the new terminal to avoid major glitches during the critical Soccer World Cup period," says a source at the concession holder of the new airport.

Guarulhos is the second of three key airports that were part of Brazil's first privatisation concession package in 2011 to open a new terminal. The tender conditions require the operators to have new critical infrastructure and terminal buildings ready by 11 May, just in time for the World Cup.

Brasilia International airport has already inaugurated a new concourse Campinas, the third airport that was privatised, will formally finalise its new passenger terminal on 11 May. However, according to a Campinas airport source, the terminal will not go into operations until 3 June.

Even then, only one-third of its structure will be available, limiting operations to Campinas' only long-haul operator, TAP, and World Cup charter flights.

Several delays during the privatisation process left the operators with less than two years to execute the first phase of the required construction work, which has led to some behind-the scenes negotiations over exemptions from potential fines. Based on the concession contract, these fines could reach R150 million ($67 million) for a terminal not ready by 11 May, plus $1.5 million for every additional day of delay.