After years of being overlooked by the outside world, Viracopos/Campinas Airport is starting to attract more international flights. Information on the airport’s website suggests there are expansionary plans for the future. The airport has registered a request for new slots filed by the French airline Aigle Azur who intends to fly between Paris and Viracopos starting July.
Little known outside Europe, Aigle Azur was founded in 1946 and today flies to around 25 European destinations plus a few other routes further afield. Since last December, the company has had a new partner, David Neeleman, the founder of Azul Linhas Aéreas and a partner of TAP, amongst other business interests. Not coincidentally, in December Aigle Azur ordered two new A330-200 widebodies configured for three classes with delivery scheduled for the first quarter of this year.
According to the Viracopos website, initially there will be three weekly flights which will increase to five weekly from September. The novelty is not that. What is interesting is that the flights to Paris will use Orly, the French capital's second biggest airport. Historically, Orly was used for flights to Brazil before Charles De Gaulle Airport became the main gateway to France.
Located 13 km outside Paris, Orly has three runways and more than 30 airlines operate from there including TAP. In other words, Orly is a viable alternative to the more distant Charles De Gaulle and serves as an alternative hub for Europe.
Neeleman’s investment in Aigle Azur is a good indication of the potential of Viracopos. The airport has had a difficult time since Aeroportos Brazil ceased to be the operator. Now, with the country's economy slowly improving, São Paulo's airport can show the world that the golden years before the crisis were not just a lucky tailwind.