This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil, Spotting at Sao Paulo’s airports, and Preserved Airliners in Brazil. In this post we’ll look at where to spot at Rio de Janeiro’s two airports.
Rio de Janeiro has two commercial airports: Galeão–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, and Santos Dumont Airport.
Galeão is a joint air base with the Brazil Air Force. It is a major international gateway to Brazil, and the country’s largest airport site. It handled over 17 million passengers in 2013.
Santos Dumont is a smaller, primarily domestic airport situated closer to the centre of the city, on reclaimed land and in sight of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.
Spotting at Galeão Airport
The airport has two runways and two terminals; Terminal 2 was recently renovated in time for the 2014 World Cup.
Galeão is a main hub to TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aereos. It is also served by major carriers such as:
Galeao is also a busy cargo hub, with numerous domestic and international carriers flying in each day.
The main spotting location at Galeao Airport is the observation deck in the Air Cafe within Terminal 1. It is located on a higher floor and has good views over the parking areas and runway beyond, so you should see all aircraft movements from here.
An alternative observation area can be found in Terminal 2’s international concourse 1. This has similar views over the parking gates and aprons, and photography is possible.
Between terminals 1 and 2 is a link corridor which also has views across the apron. You don’t need to be a passenger to view here, and photography is possible.
If you’re looking for spotting hotels at Galeao Airport, the Luxor Aeroporto is located within the terminal complex. However, it does not have any rooms overlooking the apron. It is, however, an an easy walk to the various spotting locations.
Spotting at Santos Dumont Airport
Santos Dumont is Brazil’s 6th busiest airport. It has two short parallel runways, a single terminal, and an area for business aircraft. The airport operates between 6am and 11pm.
Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport
Its downtown location makes it a busy business hub for executive aircraft, and also for domestic flights by airlines such as:
Gol Transportes Aereos
There is also a military presence at the airport, so be careful when pointing binoculars and cameras around the perimeter.
The best spotting location is within the terminal itself, where there is a large window overlooking the aircraft apron and runways in the distance. Despite there once being an observation deck, it is now obstructed by gates.
An alternative location outside the terminal is close to the southern end of the runways, on Avenida Almirante Silvio Noronha. Turn left outside the terminal and walk past the college. It takes about 20 minutes to get here, and photography is best in the afternoon.
The Ibis Santos Dumont Airport is the only spotting hotel at Santos Dumont. Some rooms, ending in 51, 53 or 55 according to Plane Spotting Hotels, have limited views over the executive ramp. It is only a short walk to the terminal, however. Hotel website.
Transfers between Galeao and Santos Dumont airports is by a shuttle bus that takes around half an hour.