Campo de Marte Airport, the main general aviation airfield in metropolitan São Paulo, will be one of the highlights in an auction of airport properties scheduled for August 18. Brazil’s federal government is promoting the auctions as part of the Seventh Airport Concessions Round.
The airfield was involved for 90 years in a political dispute and, later, a judicial dispute between the state of São Paulo and the national government. It all started in the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932, when the state of São Paulo fought practically alone against the government, aiming to enact a new constitution for Brazil. Campo de Marte became the main base for the air operations of the Força Pública, precursor of the São Paulo civil police. Many battles took place in the interior of the state, but Campo de Marte itself was also attacked by federal forces.
The conflict lasted a few months and ended with the defeat of São Paulo on Oct. 2, 1932. The Força Pública squadron was disbanded and its airplanes and hangars transferred to the Brazilian Army. Campo de Marte saw growth with the opening of several aviation schools and flights by VASP to Brazil’s interior, which ended when the airline went bankrupt in 2008.
Over the decades, the airport has focused on general aviation, with commercial airlines flying out of Congonhas, Viracopos in Campinas, and later Guarulhos, the main international airport.
In 1979, airport infrastructure company Infraero took over management of Campo de Marte, where more than 30 concessionaires already occupied hangars, including aviation schools, air taxi companies, maintenance providers, and military and civil police operations. The city of São Paulo always wanted to reclaim the airport’s land and in 1958 filed for repossession. The dispute lasted until this year.
While the dispute was in litigation, several mayors and governors of São Paulo, from various political parties, made plans to redevelop Campo de Marte. Low-income housing, parks, and high-speed train stations were some ideas. Neighbors wanted the airport closed because of several aircraft accidents. One proposal would restrict the airport to rotary-wing aircraft, eliminating the runway and reducing the size of the airfield. In parallel, the companies operating at Campo de Marte, as well as the entire local business and general aviation community, pressed for maintenance of the airport because the alternatives were distant and limited (airports in Sorocaba and Jundiaí). Campo de Marte could connect São Paulo with hundreds of Brazilian communities, far more than airlines operating from Congonhas or Guarulhos, where general aviation had always been limited.
Finally, when Law 14.409/22 was enacted, the dispute came to an end. The result is that the government will get 1.8 million square meters (20 million sq feet) of Campo de Marte and the city 4,500 square meters, where it intends to build a park and even an aviation museum. The airport area owned by the government is the segment that will be auctioned on August 18, in the Central Aviation Block, together with another airport that serves business and general aviation, Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro. In the lot including these two airports, the minimum initial bid is R$141.4 million ($27.6 million) and the total investment value for the entire contract is R$1.7 billion. Under the auction language, the properties will need to contionue to be used as airports.
According to Infraero, Campo de Marte Airport houses the largest fleet of helicopters in the country. The airport has 23 hangars for business aircraft and handles 71,074 flights annually. The apron covers 12,420 square meters and has 23 parking spaces. The runway measures 1,600 meters (5,250 feet).
Jacarepaguá Airport has a 46,900-square-meter ramp with 47 parking spaces, 11 of which are for aircraft and 36 for helicopters. The airport also serves as a critical base for offshore oil and gas platforms. The runway is 900 meters long.