What you need to know about Viracopos Airport

Viracopos International Airport, as we are going to see, was elected Brazil’s best airport in 2018 and 2019.  

Located in Campinas, São Paulo, it is one of the 20 main airports in Brazil and its infrastructure is capable of handling up to 25 million of passengers per year.

Furthermore, it is a very important airport for the development of the Southeast region as the whole country.

That said, let’s find out more about it, understand its importance and track some of its numbers over the past few months?

Viracopos Airport and its geographical location

As mentioned before, the airport is in the city of Campinas, São Paulo state, that is one of the most important technology centers in Brazil, 14km away from the city’s downtown.

It is possible to access it by road mode of transportation through the national and state highways Santos Dumont (BR-116), Bandeirantes (SP-348) and Anhanguera (BR-050).

Viracopos International Airport is currently Azul Airlines’ hub and besides the flights from Azul also operates domestic flights from Tam Airlines and Gol Airlines. As for international flights counts on American Airlines.

Furthermore, it handles cargo flights operated by companies such as Cargolx, Fedex and Lufthansa Cargo.

The airport complex has 178,000m² of built area with 28 boarding bridges.

History of Viracopos Airport

The place where the airport is located today is being used for air operations since the Brazilian Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932. At that time, the landing strip built with hoes and pickaxes was used only for transport up to Minas Gerais.

After the revolution, the site remained inactive for a long period and resumed operations again in 1946, when the existing strip was expanded to 1,500m.

It was so in 1946 that the first official landing happened with an aircraft of the Douglas DC-3 type owned by Empresa Central Aérea Ltd.

From this moment onwards there have been several renovations and modernizations. In 1948 was built the first hangar and two years later the passenger station.

In 1957, the landing strip was again expanded, now to 2,700m, which was one of the actions required for it to become international, in addition to the installation of some mandatory equipment.

The classification as international came soon after, when on October 19, 1960, the Ministerial Ordinance no. 756 elevated Viracopos to the category of International Airport.

In 1978, INFRAERO (Brazilian Company of Airport Infrastructure), a state-owed company, was entrusted with managing the Cargo Terminal and two years later received the general administration of the airport as well.

Decades later, in 2012, the concessionaire Aeroportos Brasil Viracopos received from INFRAERO these two responsibilities, officially implemented in 2013.

Where did the name “Viracopos” come from?

An interesting curiosity about the airport is that there is no official reference or historical record of the real reason for choosing such name.

Therefore, the explanation is merely a popular legend and absolutely not unanimous, with two versions for the origin of the name.

The first one believes that, on a party night organized by the local church at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a fierce disagreement between the parish priest and the people who lived there.

This version tells that the confusion was enormous and resulted in fights and party tents broken.

Soon after the incident, which would have happened at the place where now is Viracopos Airport, the parish priest began referring to it in his sermons as “viracopos” (which in Portuguese means something like “turn glasses”).

Another milder version tells that right in the place where the airport is now there used to exist a bar frequented by troopers to “turn the glass”, meaning to drink, rest and talk about their travels.

Either way, the region has been known as “viracopos” since a long time ago, reason why the same name was given to the airport.

Viracopos Airport logistical information

Viracopos International Airport was elected the Best Airport in Brazil in 2018 and 2019, as well as won the award for the Most Efficient X-Ray and Airport with More Passenger Services categories.

To assess such results, the Civil Aviation Secretariat (SAC) conducted four surveys over the two years in the 20 main airports in Brazil (Viracopos).

As expected, one of the best airports in the country would also have a large movement of passengers and cargo.

Throughout 2020, the new coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced the movement records, which dropped 50% in a few months compared to the previous year (Viracopos).

However, in 2021 the numbers began to rise again and reach those registered in 2019 before pandemic. In August 2021, 914,700 passengers passed through Viracopos Airport, while in the same month of 2019 913,900 were registered (Viracopos).

Between January and August 2021, the amount of 6.1 million passengers walked through Viracopos terminals, 58.94% more than in 2020, the year most affected by the pandemic.

Out of this total only 99 thousand passengers were on international flights, the major part of it (6 million) carried out domestic flights.

As for aircrafts that landed and took off, in the first eight months of 2021, the airport operated 65,700 arrivals and departures, 50.31% more compared to the same period in 2020 (Viracopos).

Operations and records at the cargo terminal

Notwithstanding the expressive numbers of passengers handled at Viracopos Airport, it is a great exponent in the movement of cargo too, as it is the largest in handling imported cargo in the country.

It was even elected the 3rd Best Cargo Airport in the World in the Up to 400-thousand-tons Per Year Category in the Air Cargo World 2020 award, the Air Cargo Excellence Awards 2020 (Viracopos).

Also in 2020, the airport registered a historic record for cargo handling in a year since the private concession began in 2013.

Last year, 262,2 thousand tons were handled, 18.6% more if compared to 2019, surpassing the highest registered until then, which was in 2018 the record of 241,3 thousand (Viracopos).

And the numbers for 2021 are encouraging, even higher than those for 2020.

Between January and August of this year alone, more than 227,8 thousand tons of cargo were handled in the terminal, 51.11% more than the registered in the previous year.

Out of these, 60,9 thousand tons were handled domestically, while 166,9 thousand tons were handled internationally, both in imports and exports operations.

Likewise, the numbers of express courier are noteworthy. In the first eight months of this year, 4,5 thousand tons were registered in this modality, 26.63% more if compared to 2020 (Viracopos).

The goods that most pass through the terminal are from segments such as technology, pharmaceutical, chemical, clothing, automotive and fruits.

Viracopos consolidates itself as the main entry point for vaccines and supplies

An exponent in imports, Viracopos Airport has established itself as a major gateway for vaccines and other drugs administrated in the fight against COVID-19.

In June alone, the pharmaceutical Pfizer delivered to Brazil around 13 million doses of its immunizing agent, all of it has landed in Campinas.

Throughout 2021 the airport has received doses of vaccines from CoronaVac and Janssen as well (Viracopos).


So, did you know that Viracopos International Airport was the main entry point for Brazilian imports carried out by the air modal?

What about the fact that it ranks among the best airports in the country, as well as it has won international awards and certificates?

Very interesting, isn't it?

Well, should you have any questions or any suggestions, let us know in the comments below!

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