BUSINESS
02/08/2012 10:09 EST | Updated 04/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Brazil's busiest airport opens new terminal for domestic flights

SAO PAULO - Brazil's busiest airport on Wednesday opened a new terminal meant to handle as many as 5 million domestic passengers a year.

Infraero, the government agency that operates airports, said on its website that the 85 million real($49.4 million) terminal in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos international airport will handle domestic flights, which account for more than 60 per cent of the passengers using the airport.

Rio de Janeiro-based Webjet is the first line to use the new terminal, which is a bit more than 1 mile (2 kilometres) from the airport's runways, so buses will ferry passengers to and from their planes

The agency says the new terminal is included in the privatization contract that the Invepar consortium won this week to operate and expand the Sao Paulo airport for 20 years.

Brazil's Investimentos e Participacoes em Infraestrutura SA controls 90 per cent of Invepar. Airports Company South Africa controls the rest.

Infraero retains a 49 per cent stake in the newly privatized airports that together account for 30 per cent of Brazil's passenger traffic.

Brazil is trying to improve its overcrowded and poorly maintained airports before hosting the World Cup in 2014, when hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to fly between the 12 host cities for matches.