On Monday this week, the day before the LABACE show opened at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, Brazilian business aviation industry group ABAG held a conference at which Coronel Aviador Ary Rodrigues Bertolino, head of CGNA (Air Traffic Management Center), analyzed the organization’s role planning air traffic for the 2014 soccer World Cup (Copa do Mundo de Futebol).
There was a significant amount of work involved in carrying out a capacity survey, designing temporary airspace, creating a traffic simulation, and publishing rules and regulations. He gave details of the movements at various games that led to the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, when “the aprons were filled to capacity.”
“Looking at the parking aprons [for the final] at Galeão and Santo Dumont [airports] before the final in Rio, there were almost 1,000 aircraft [including] private jets.”
Behind the scenes, CGNA’s preparations had involved setting up a Master Room, which was to be operational for 42 days, 24/7, involving 72 people from 17 organizations. A total of 170 briefings/debriefings were held, said Bertolino. Staff were posted to tower, approach and AIS offices at various airports, the main two being São Paulo-Guarulhos (SRGR) and Rio de Janeiro-Galeão (SRGL).
For the June 25 game, Argentina v Nigeria, at Porto Allegre, there was a 23 percent increase in traffic with 24 charter flights and 92 GA flights, 47 of these being from Argentina. President Federaçao of Argentina arrived in the state’s Bombardier Challenger business jet; and the president of football’s ruling body FIFA, Sepp Blatter, touched down in an Embraer Legacy.
For the Argentina v Holland game on July 9, there were 1,040 movements (up 26 percent from normal) at SRGR. Of these, 727 were regular (e.g. airline) flights but charter movements were up from a normal 27 to 83 flights, general aviation from 33 to 178 and helicopter operations increased from 14 to 40.
For the Germany v Brazil game on July 8, movements at Belo Horizonte’s centrally-located Pampulha Airport reached 338 with charter movements up 133 percent, GA movements up 99 percent and helicopter movements up 300 percent–because it is within range of São Paulo’s metropolis with its vast number of helicopters and heliports. In addition, there were 506 total movements at Belo Horizonte’s Tancredo Neves International Airport, with charter movements up to 87 from the normal average of around 13, general aviation up from 1 to 122 and helicopter movements up from 1 to 13. These figures reflected a 74 percent increase.
For the day after the final in Rio, July 14, total charter movements at the two Rio airports were 96 (from 14, +585 percent), general aviation 838 (from 404, +107 percent), military 58 (from 41, up 41 percent), leaving a total of 1,761 (up from 1,120 normal, +57 percent).
Overall in the World Cup, there were 2,839 aircraft from domestic locations that were granted 21,537 slots; and 635 international aircraft that were granted 1,518 slots.
In fact, Bertolino pointed out that the World Cup was not the peak for Brazilian air traffic. “Our peak traffic for the end of the school holidays was more than the peaks for the World Cup.” However, it was certainly a peak for business aviation, which will probably only be surpassed by the Rio Olympics in 2016.
FBOs and flight planning groups were central to making the World Cup experience as manageable as possible for business aircraft operators. For instance, Jet Aviation and Brazil’s C-Fly Aviation set up a partnership to jointly run an “open-air hangar” at SRGL in Rio and together they were able to maximize use of the limited parking space at the airport. Universal Weather & Aviation told AIN that it supported more than 700 operations during the course of the tournament.