Brazilian hub getting set for a big year

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Rio Galeao–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport’s cargo business goes from strength to strength and 2016 is set to be a banner 12 months with volumes to rise as Rio de Janeiro welcomes the Olympic Games.

Rio Galeao Cargo’s director, Patrick Fehring says in February the Brazilian airport will open a new 4,300 square metre domestic cargo warehouse, which will house operations for LATAM Airlines, Avianca, GOL and Azul.

“This will significantly improve the customer proposition for these carriers. On the back of these improvements we will explore opportunities for domestic cargo growth with our airline partners,” Fehring says.

The airport is investing $6 million into its cargo facilities, and last year spent $5 million on a pharmaceuticals complex, which has boosted efficiency and will drive growth.

Fehring explains: “The $3 million refurbishment of our exports and domestic cargo warehouse is nearly completed, significantly improving working conditions for our airline partners and government agencies.

“In 15 June, we inaugurated our new pharma centre, a 11,000 square metre, facility which has tripled our pharma capacity to meet the growing demand from pharma importers.

“We are planning to make further investments in the expansion and upgrade of our pharma complex this year.”

The airport is pursuing the International Air Transport Association CEIV Pharma Certification and is the first Latin American (LATAM) airport to have signed up for it. It hopes this will significantly improving competitiveness once it is gained around August this year.

2015 was a challenging year for the LATAM air cargo market and Brazil in particular, due to political instability as well as a decline in economic activity. The airport says the Brazilian market as a whole suffered and it saw a slump in its international volumes.

Fehring explains: “However, we managed to grow our share of our home market Rio de Janeiro in 2015. As Brazil’s second largest international airport, RIOgaleão Cargo can count on a stable bellyhold network and does not depend on freighter capacity, which quickly adapts to market conditions.

“We managed to reduce freight clearing time by 20 per cent in 2015, improving our attractiveness for customers that may have opted for another gateway in the past.”

The airport’s main exports in 2015 were pharma and perishables (mostly papayas and fish), but also textiles, and oil and gas parts. Its man export markets are Europe, the US and the rest of LATAM.

On the import side, Europe represents 40 per cent of volumes, and North America 32 per cent. Oil and gas and pharma represented 19 per cent and 13 per cent respectively of import volumes in 2015.

Fehring says: “These market segments are set to grow above average once the economy recovers and our infrastructure investments reflect this. We see market share opportunities in 2016 in machinery and technology.”

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are set to generate significant volumes this year, Fehring says. “We are expecting some 20-25 charters with general cargo in both directions and an additional 11 freighters with horses for which we have already adapted our infrastructure.”

And the airport could welcome another freighter in 2016, to add to the two a week from Miami. Fehring says it is discussing with operators about a regular weekly European service.