Spotting at Sao Paulo’s Airports
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, and a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil. In this post we’ll look at the opportunities for spotting at Sao Paulo’s.
Sao Paulo has two airports – Gaurulhos, which is the main international airport, and Congonhas, which is a busy domestic airport. Here is a guide to the best places to spot at the two airports.
Spotting at Guarulhos Airport
Guarulhos is the largest airport in South America, and a busy international gateway to Brazil. It is located in the north of the city and has two parallel runways and four terminal sections.
The airport is a main hub to TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aereos. It is also served by major carriers such as:
Inside the terminal there are two areas where you can see aircraft, at either ends of the building through large windows, but you will miss some movements.
The Hotel Matiz is great for spotting, as it has a terrace which is perfect for landing shots. However, sometimes this is closed, or requires to you pay for day access if you’re not a guest. It is best to e-mail the hotel a few days prior to your arrival to request access. It is situated at the westerly end of the runways.
Nearby the Matiz is an area of grass underneath the approach to runways 09L/R, which is a 30 minute walk from the terminal. You can’t park here, but it is safe to spot and photograph.
As for spotting hotels at Guarulhos, the Hotel Matiz mentioned above is the best option as it has great views of arrivals and a terrace. Aircraft can be read off from rooms facing the airport. Hotel website.
Access to Guarulhos is best by car, taxi or bus. There is also a free bus transfer to Congonhas airport for Gol and TAM passengers.
Spotting at Congonhas Airport
Situated 5 miles from downtown Sao Paulo, Congonhas sits atop a plateau surrounded by the urban sprawl. It is a tricky airport for pilots because of its short runways.
Congonhas has a single terminal, two runways, and is Brazil’s third busiest airport in terms of passengers, and second busiest in terms of aircraft movements. So there’s plenty to see!
It is now only a domestic airport, having lost its international flights. It is quite popular with executive aircraft. The principal airlines are:
Brava Linhas Aereas
Avenue Washington Luiz is a good spotting location at Congonhas as it has a walkway alongside which parallels the runway. You can walk here from the terminal if you turn right. However, it can be unsafe to be here alone or for long.
Another good spot if runway 17R is in use is to continue along Avenue Washington Luiz to where it joins Avenue Bandeirantes. Aircraft will pass above you at close quarters.
A good value spotting hotel at Congonhas Airport is the Ibis Hotel Congonhas. It is situated next to the terminal, and rooms on higher floors have a great view of all movements. Hotel website.
The airport is accessed by car, taxi or bus. Free shuttle buses link Guarulhos and Viracopos International for passengers.