Fortaleza set to become a major hub for Brazil

Fortaleza Airport should see exponential growth as it becomes an important hub in the northeast of Brazil. The airport’s strategic location makes it a gateway to popular tourist beaches and the Amazon. Fraport, the airport’s new operator, is planning to invest heavily to meet air traffic demand, but fast growth and airport expansion always have a way of presenting considerable challenges.

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Fortaleza’s strategic position

Fraport Brasil, a subsidiary of German airport operators Fraport AG, is in the process of taking over the operations at Fortaleza Pinto Martins Airport (FOR), after submitting the winning bid for the airport in March 2017. With significant airline interest in using Fortaleza as a hub, the airport operator expects the current six million annual air passengers to soon double.

The easy connections to Europe, the Caribbean, and North America prompted KLM/AirFrance to establish a third hub there starting in May 2018, together with local airline partner GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL). More airlines are expected to follow. And although LATAM’s northeast hub plans are on hold, Fortaleza Airport is still a serious contender. The Brazilian-Chilean airline has, meanwhile, announced extra flights to Florida.

The KLM/AirFrance/GOL plan will add 26 new flights, with KLM offering three weekly Airbus A330 flights from Amsterdam this summer, and Air France’s new airline, Joon, linking Paris-Charles de Gaulle with two weekly Airbus A340 flights. GOL will provide about 60,000 new seats to five destinations (Belém, Manaus, Natal, Recife and Salvador) with more expected in the future.

Airport expansion plans

With all this in mind, Fraport is investing (in Portuguese) the equivalent of 350 million euros on airport infrastructure expansion in order to handle between 14 and 16 million passengers annually in the near future. A terminal expansion to about 61,000m2, which will nearly double the existing area, with 12 new gates, a 200-meter runway extension, and improvement of existing runways have been prioritised.

Investment is also planned for improving airport wi-fi services and lighting, remodelling taxi and traffic areas, redesigning the airport road system, adding automated baggage management and security, and installing new aircraft boarding bridges

The challenges

Doubling capacity and adding more international flights poses multiple challenges for Fraport’s airport operations. Fortaleza Airport sits in a busy urban area, so the additional aircraft movements will affect the surrounding population. Dealing with noise, safety, and CO2 emissions to minimise the environmental impact of aviation requires practical and feasible solutions that effectively coordinate airspace use, air traffic operations and aviation policy.

One of the ways To70 helps airports reduce environmental impact is with studies and detailed analysis to design and evaluate operational changes. By introducing new technologies and operating procedures for passenger flow management and terminal optimisation, we have been able to substantially increase capacity while limiting both the need for physical airport expansion and the impact on the surroundings.

About To70. To70 is one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, founded in the Netherlands with offices in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. To70 believes that society’s growing demand for transport and mobility can be met in a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable manner. To achieve this, policy and business decisions have to be based on objective information. With our diverse team of specialists and generalists to70 provides pragmatic solutions and expert advice, based on high-quality data-driven analyses. For more information, please refer to

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One thought on “Fortaleza set to become a major hub for Brazil

  1. Hi Vitor,
    Interesting post. I agree Fortaleza is well placed to become a hub-airport.
    BUT : the airport is amidst build up area.
    Sooner or Later this will cause serious problems.
    So I think the City has to look for an alternative location in the future NOW.
    Maybe To70 can help them right now.
    All the best
    Hugo Gordijn

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