Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport

Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim/Galeão International Airport (IATA: GIG, ICAO: SBGL), popularly known by its original name Galeão International Airport, is the main airport serving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the country's second-busiest international airport.[4] It is named after Praia do Galeão (Galleon Beach), located in front of the original passenger terminal (the present passenger terminal of the Brazilian Air Force) and where in 1663 the galleon Padre Eterno was built;[5][6] and since January 5, 1999 also after the Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim.[7] Galeão Airport is explicitly mentioned in his composition Samba do avião. It is the largest airport site in terms of area in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim/Galeão International Airport

Aeroporto Internacional do Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim/Galeão
Airport typePublic/Military
OperatorAeroporto Rio de Janeiro S/A
ServesRio de Janeiro
Hub for
Elevation AMSL9 m / 28 ft
Coordinates22°48′36″S 043°15′02″W
Location within greater Rio de Janeiro
GIG (Brazil)
GIG (South America)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
10/28 4,000 13,123 Concrete
15/33 3,180 10,433 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passengers15,035,083 7.4%
Aircraft Operations113,726 5.3%
Statistics: RIOGaleão[1]
Sources: Airport Website,[2] ANAC[3]

Since August 12, 2014[8] it has been operated by the concessionary Rio Galeão,[9] a consortium formed by the Brazilian investor Odebrecht and Changi Airport Group, with a minority participation of the government owned company Infraero, the previous operator.[10] The new concessionary has been using the brand name RIOgaleão – Aeroporto Internacional Tom Jobim.[11]

Some of its facilities are shared with the Galeão Air Force Base of the Brazilian Air Force.


The history of the airport begins on May 10, 1923 when a School of Naval Aviation was established near Galeão beach on Governador Island.[12] On May 22, 1941 with the creation of the Brazilian Air Force Ministry, the school became the Galeão Air Force Base; a terminal and hangars were built and the runway extended. Those buildings still exist and Galeão Air Force Base is still active. When Brazil declared war against the Axis on August 22, 1942, the aerodrome began to be used intensely by the Allies for military operations related to the World War II.[13]

At the end of the war, Santos Dumont Airport was unable to handle the increased tonnage of aircraft flying on international routes and number of passengers. For this reason, international flights were gradually moved to the site of the Air Force Base. The services were however precarious and a decision was made to build a brand new passenger terminal, opposite to the Air Force Base, across the runway.

On February 1, 1952 the new passenger terminal was opened and remained in use with enlargements until 1977. This terminal is used presently by passenger flights operated by the Brazilian Air Force. The cargo terminal is also located in the area and all-cargo aircraft usually park at its adjoining apron. The whole complex is now informally known as the "old Galeão."

By 1970 the airport was Brazil's major international and domestic air-hub. In that year, its administration was taken over by Infraero, an agency then recently created by the Brazilian government.

As proof of the airport's prestige, the Concorde made its scheduled maiden flight with Air France on January 21, 1976, flying from Paris–Charles de Gaulle to Galeão via Dakar. Those twice-weekly flights were discontinued in 1982. Furthermore, the 007 – James Bond production Moonraker (1979) shows the Concorde touching down at Galeão.

On June 6, 1967 in response to the growth of air traffic in Brazil, the Brazilian military government initiated studies concerning the renovation of the airport infrastructure in Brazil. As part of the conclusions of these studies, because of their location, strategic importance, and security issues, new passenger facilities would be constructed in the areas of Galeão Air Force Base in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo Air Force Base in São Paulo.[14]

On January 20, 1977, when the airport was receiving all of Brazil's major international flights, this new terminal was opened and all scheduled passenger flights were transferred to the new building. This building is known today as Passenger Terminal 1. One of the features dating from this time is the sultry PA system announcements made by Iris Lettieri, which were featured on National Public Radio.[15]

In 1985 the airport lost the title of the country's major international airport to São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport. At that time, a new runway allowing intercontinental flights with no weight restrictions was opened in São Paulo and Brazilian and foreign airlines increasingly used São Paulo as a national and international hub. As a consequence, the number of transiting passengers dropped. Constant efforts were made by the Government of the State of Rio de Janeiro to reverse the trend. As a result, after stagnating for years embittered by the loss of domestic flights to Santos Dumont Airport and international flights to São Paulo–Guarulhos Airport, Galeão has – since late 2004 – gradually recovered its importance in the national and international spheres with addition of flights and airlines.

During the year 1991, Passenger Terminal 1 underwent its first major renovation in preparation for the United Nations Earth Summit held in 1992. Its annual capacity was increased to 7,5 million passengers/year. On July 20, 1999 Passenger Terminal 2 was opened. The airport has those two passenger terminals in elliptical format, each with twelve jetways and capable of handling 7,5 million passengers annually.

On April 26, 2011 it was confirmed that in order to speed-up much needed renovation and up-grade works, private companies would be granted a concession to explore some Infraero airports among them, on a second phase, Galeão.[16] The plan was confirmed on May 31, 2011 and it was added that Infraero would retain 49% of the shares of each privatized airport.[17] On November 22, 2013 the Brazilian Government had a bidding process to determine the airport's private operator from 2014 until 2039. The Group Aeroporto Rio de Janeiro formed by Grupo Odebrecht (60%) and Changi Airport Group (40%) paid R$19 billion and won the competition.[18][19] The contract was signed on April 2, 2014.[20][21]

One day after the closure of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad Galeão handled an all-time record of passengers on a single day. It is estimated that on August 22, 2016, 85,000 passengers transited at the airport facilities.[22][23]

One of the two TAP Maintenance & Engineering centers in Brazil is located at Galeão International Airport.


On August 31, 2009, the previous operator, Infraero, unveiled a R$819 million (US$431 million; 302 million) investment plan to upgrade Galeão International Airport focusing on the preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup which was held in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro being one of the venue cities, and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which Rio de Janeiro would host. The investment was supposed to be distributed as follows:[24]

  • Renovation of Passenger Terminal 1. Completed: 2012
  • Completion and renovation of Passenger Terminal 2. Completed: June 2012
  • Construction of further parking. Value 220.0 million. Completed: Late-2013

The new concessionary Rio Galeão has revised, modified and upgraded those plans to include the construction of a new pier with 26 new bridges, a new apron for 97 aircraft, and 2,640 car-parking spaces have been added in 2016–17, which would sum up to R$2 billion reais.[25][26]

Airlines and destinations

Since November 2016, the check-in and baggage claim areas of Terminal 1 are not in use. All passengers must use Terminal 2 to access the boarding gates of any terminal.[27]

Aerolíneas Argentinas Buenos Aires–Ezeiza
Seasonal: Córdoba
Aerolíneas Argentinas
operated by Austral Líneas Aéreas
Seasonal: Rosario
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino
Amaszonas Santa Cruz de la Sierra–Viru Viru[28]
American Airlines Miami
Seasonal: New York–JFK
Avianca Bogotá
Avianca Perú Lima
Azul Brazilian Airlines Belo Horizonte–Confins, Campinas, Campos dos Goytacazes, Macaé, Recife, Ribeirão Preto, São José dos Campos
British Airways London–Heathrow
Copa Airlines Panama City–Tocumen
Delta Air Lines Atlanta
Seasonal: New York–JFK
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Emirates Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Dubai–International, Santiago de Chile
Flybondi Buenos Aires–El Palomar
Gol Transportes Aéreos Aracaju, Belém, Belo Horizonte–Confins, Brasília, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Campinas, Córdoba, Curitiba, Florianópolis, Fortaleza, Foz do Iguaçu, Goiânia, João Pessoa, Maceió, Manaus, Natal, Navegantes, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rosario, Salvador da Bahia, Santiago de Chile, São Luís, São Paulo–Congonhas, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Vitória
Iberia Madrid
KLM Amsterdam
LATAM Brasil Brasília, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Fortaleza, Foz do Iguaçu, Montevideo, Natal, Santiago de Chile, São Paulo–Congonhas, São Paulo–Guarulhos
LATAM Chile Santiago de Chile
LATAM Paraguay Asunción, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza
LATAM Perú Lima
Lufthansa Frankfurt
Norwegian Air UK London–Gatwick
Paranair Seasonal: Asunción
Royal Air Maroc Casablanca
Sky Airline Santiago de Chile
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon, Porto
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental


Cargolux Campinas, Luxembourg
LATAM Cargo Brasil Belo Horizonte–Confins, Cabo Frio, Campinas, Ciudad del Este, Curitiba, Manaus, Miami, Porto Alegre, São Paulo–Guarulhos
LATAM Cargo Chile Amsterdam, Buenos Aires–Ezeiza, Frankfurt, Miami, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile
LATAM Cargo Colombia Bogotá, Lima, Miami, Quito
Rio Linhas Aéreas Recife, Salvador da Bahia, São Paulo–Guarulhos
Sky Lease Cargo Miami


YearNumber of passengers[29][30]
Estatisticas Infraero[31]
Rank Country Number of passengers
1  Argentina 249,305
2  United States 171,124
3  France 80,478
4  Chile 80,001
5  United Kingdom 66,447
6  Italy 57,061
7  Germany 55,865
8  Portugal 43,380
9  Spain 35,135
10  Colombia 23,563
Busiest international routes by seat capacity (2015)[32]
Ranking City Seats
1 Buenos Aires 891,818
2 Miami 422,153
2 Paris 379,694
4 Santiago 364,570
Busiest intercontinental routes at Rio de Janeiro International Airport (2014) – ANAC[33]
Rank City Passengers
1 Paris 363,254
2 Lisbon 267,417
3 Frankfurt 193,082
4 London 188,737
5 Madrid 172,263
6 Amsterdam 145,070
7 Rome 125,782
8 Dubai 119,193
9 Porto 48,292
10 Luanda 45,308

Accidents and incidents

  • July 27, 1952: a Pan Am Boeing 377 Stratocruiser 10–26 registration N1030V operating flight 201 en route from Rio de Janeiro–Galeão to Buenos Aires–Ezeiza following pressurization problems during climb, a door blew open, a passenger was blown out and the cabin considerably damaged. One passenger died.[34]
  • January 11, 1959: a Lufthansa Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation registration D-ALAK operating flight 502 flying from Hamburg to Rio de Janeiro–Galeão via Frankfurt, Paris–Orly and Dakar crashed during approach under heavy rain at Galeão. The crew descended below minimums. Of the 39 passengers and crew aboard, 3 survived. This was the first accident of Lufthansa after it was re-established.[35]
  • December 22, 1959: a VASP Vickers Viscount 827 registration PP-SRG while on approach to land at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão was involved in a mid-air collision with the Brazilian Air Force Fokker S-11 (T-21) registration FAB0742 in the vicinity of Manguinhos Airport. All 32 people on board the Viscount were killed, as were a further ten on the ground. The T-21 pilot parachuted to safety. This accident eventually led to the closure of Manguinhos Airport.[36][37][38]
  • August 20, 1962: a Panair do Brasil Douglas DC-8-33 registration PP-PDT taking-off from Rio de Janeiro–Galeão to Lisbon overran the runway into the ocean during an aborted operation. Of the 120 passengers and crew aboard 14 died.[39][40]
  • January 1, 1970: a Cruzeiro do Sul Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle VI R en route from Montevideo to Rio de Janeiro–Galeão with 33 occupants aboard was hijacked by 6 persons who demanded to be flown to Cuba. The flight was diverted to Lima, Panama City and arrived in Havana two days later. There were no victims.[41]
  • July 1, 1970: a Cruzeiro do Sul Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle VI R registration PP-PDX en route from Rio de Janeiro–Galeão to São Paulo with 31 occupants aboard was hijacked by 4 persons who demanded the release of political prisoners that were to be taken to Cuba. The aircraft was stormed and the hijackers arrested. There were no victims and the hijacking lasted less than a day.[42]
  • June 9, 1973: a Varig cargo Boeing 707-327C registration PP-VJL flying from Campinas to Rio de Janeiro–Galeão while making an instrument approach to Rio de Janeiro–Galeão had technical problems with the spoilers which eventually caused the aircraft to pitch down, descended fast, struck approach lights and ditch. All 6 occupants died.[43]
  • July 26, 1979: a Lufthansa cargo Boeing 707-330C registration D-ABUY operating flight 527 from Rio de Janeiro–Galeão to Frankfurt via Dakar collided with a mountain 5 minutes after take-off from Galeão. The crew of 3 died.[44]
  • December 12, 1985: an Air France Boeing 747-228B, registration F-GCBC, arriving from Paris–Charles de Gaulle with 273 passengers and crew, veered off the right side of runway 15 on landing, crossed a ditch and collided with a concrete wall in the cargo apron. There was a fire that totally destroyed the aircraft, but all occupants had been safely evacuated before that, with no victims or serious injuries. The accident was later traced to a ruptured power control cable in engine #1, which made the engine accelerate beyond maximum takeoff power, destabilizing the plane.[45]


The airport is located 20 km (12 mi) north of downtown Rio de Janeiro.

There are executive (blue) and ordinary (yellow) taxis available and bookable on company booths at arrival halls of both terminals.

TransCarioca line of the BRT integrated public transportation system links Terminals 1 and 2 with Terminal Alvorada in Barra da Tijuca with an intermediate stop at the Line 2 subway Vicente de Carvalho station, where one can access the entire subway system. At Alvorada one can transfer between the TransCarioca and TransOeste lines. The system operates 24 hours a day and tickets are sold in the BRT booths on the arrivals level.[46]

Premium Auto Ônibus operates executive bus 2018, that runs half-hourly between 05:30 and 23:30 hours from the airport to Central Bus Station, Rio de Janeiro downtown, Santos Dumont Airport, and the southern parts of the city along the shore, with final stop at Alvorada Bus Terminal in Barra da Tijuca. Bus 2918 follows a similar schedule to Alvorada Bus Terminal, but using a different and more direct route via the Linha Amarela ("Yellow Line") expressway. Bus 2101 is an express link between Galeão and Santos Dumont airports, and bus 2145 is a normal city bus service to the Central Bus Station, downtown, and Santos Dumont Airport. It runs every 20 minutes between 05:30 and 22:30 hours.[47] Ticket counters for these bus services are located at the arrivals area of both terminals.

Viação 1001 operates the urban bus line 761-D from the airport to Niterói.[48] Furthermore, the same company operates an executive service to Armação dos Búzios four times a day. Departure is from the arrivals level of Terminal 1.[49]

Ordinary city busses 924 and 925 operate to the neighborhood of Ilha do Governador, and 915 to Bonsucesso. From both neighborhoods there are connections to the North and South Sides of the city.

See also


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  2. "RIOgaleão". RIOGaleão.
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  4. "RIOgaleão – key facts". Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  5. Enders, Armelle (2008). A História do Rio de Janeiro (in Portuguese) (2nd ed.). Rio de Janeiro: Gryphus. p. 54. ISBN 978-85-60610-09-9.
  6. Doria, Pedro (2012). 1565: Enquanto o Brasil nascia: A aventura de portugueses, franceses, índios e negros na fundação do país (in Portuguese) (1st ed.). Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-85-2093114-1.
  7. "Lei n˚9.778, de 5 de janeiro de 1999" (in Portuguese). Lei Direto. January 5, 1999. Archived from the original on June 21, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
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  9. "Rio Galeão – Institucional" (in Portuguese). Rio Galeão. Archived from the original on August 18, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
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  11. "O Aeroporto" (in Portuguese). RIOgaleão – Aeroporto Internacional Tom Jobim. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  12. Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica (1990). História Geral da Aeronáutica Brasileira: de 1921 às vésperas da criação do Ministério da Aeronáutica (in Portuguese). 2. Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro: Itatiaia and Instituto Histórico-Cultural da Aeronáutica. pp. 58, 66, 558.
  13. Pereira, Aldo (1987). Breve história da aviação comercial brasileira (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Europa Empresa Gráfica e Editora. pp. 403–405.
  14. "Decreto nº 69.784 de 14 de dezembro de 1971" (in Portuguese). Senado federal. December 14, 1971. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  15. McCarthy, Julie (March 17, 2007). "The Most Captivating Voice in the World". NPR. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
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  20. Abdala, Vitor (April 2, 2014). "Contrato garante gestão privada do Galeão por 25 anos" (in Portuguese). Agência Brasil. Archived from the original on April 6, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
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  24. Rittner, Daniel; Braga, Paulo Victor (August 31, 2009). "Infraero vai gastar R$5 bi em reforma de aeroportos". Valor Econômico (in Portuguese). pp. A4. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
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  26. Barbosa, Carolina (August 20, 2014). "Luz no fim da pista" (in Portuguese). Veja Rio. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
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  28. Liu, Jim. "Amaszonas outlines Embraer E190 network from Sep 2019; new routes launch in Dec 2019". Routesonline. Archived from the original on August 6, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
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  37. Pereira, Aldo (1987). Breve História da Aviação Comercial Brasileira (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: Europa. pp. 205–206.
  38. Germano da Silva, Carlos Ari César (2008). "Reportagem derradeira". O rastro da bruxa: história da aviação comercial brasileira no século XX através dos seus acidentes 1928–1996 (in Portuguese) (2 ed.). Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS. pp. 177–181. ISBN 978-85-7430-760-2.
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