Lonely Planet Writer

Rio airport prepares for Olympic close-up after £460 million facelift

Few events drive international travel quite like the Olympics, and Rio De Janeiro is trying to make sure the 1.5 million travellers expected to pass through Rio Galeão-Tom Jobim International Airport during the games all receive a world-class experience.

Classic Brazilian furniture is a feature of the new South Pier in the airport's Terminal 2
Classic Brazilian furniture is a feature of the new South Pier in the airport’s Terminal 2 Image by Photo: Rio Galeão/Thiago Saramago

The airport recently underwent a massive renovation project to the tune of £460 million, expanding the physical space and modernising the digital capabilities of the facility just before the city’s time in the Olympic spotlight. Among the features at the remodelled airport are a new South Pier that adds 100,000 sq metres of space and 26 new aerobridges, 8,000 sq metres of duty-free retail space, 6,000 sq metres of dedicated lounge space, a new Welcome Centre staffed with trilingual professionals and a modernised wireless network.

A video posted by RIOgaleão (@riogaleao) on Jul 25, 2016 at 2:40pm PDT

When passengers aren’t using their phones for Pokémon GO, they’ll also be able to use the newly launched RIOgaleão mobile app to stay connected during their trip. Developed in partnership with Aruba, the app can send alerts to passengers on flight updates as well as promotions from vendors. Aruba says it installed more than 3,000 beacons across the airport to support wayfinding features within the app able to put users on the most efficient path to their favourite pre-flight snack. Changi Airports International, which operates the widely celebrated Singapore Changi Airport was brought onboard to run operations in Rio. Leaning on the folks behind an airport considered the best in the world isn’t a bad idea considering the coming spike in traffic; the 90,000 visitors expected per day during the Olympics is double the usual average for Rio Galeão.