Passenger figures for Q1 this year show that Fortaleza Airport ranked as the third busiest in Brazil. The Ceará airport overtook Recife and Salvador in Northeast Brazil with the highest international passenger traffic. The current expansion of the airport puts Fortaleza in a very strong position as the gateway to Brazil from Europe.
Third busiest in Brazil
Figures released by the Brazilian Aviation Authorities for the first three months of this year place Fortaleza Airport in third position. The airport received over 74,000 international passengers between January and March, a 65.05% increase in the year.
The statistics place Fortaleza Airport behind just Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo as the busiest airports in Brazil. Analysts put the rise in Fortaleza’s popularity down to two factors. The vastly increased flight connections between Europe and Ceará, and the attractions in this part of Northeast Brazil.
Busiest airport in the Northeast
While Fortaleza Airport has ranked among the five busiest airports in Brazil for the last ten years, it had never overtaken Recife and Salvador before. In Q1 this year, the positions changed and for the first time ever, Fortaleza received more international passengers than its Northeast Brazil rivals.
As the table below clearly shows, the rise in international tourism at Fortaleza Airport has been spectacular over the last year. Recife Airport has experienced a big drop in traffic and Salvador Airport a slight decrease in figures.
The advantages of Fortaleza Airport
Interviewed in Diario do Nordeste, Claudio Jorge, a lecturer at the Aeronautical Technical Institute (ITA in Brazilian) explained the reasons behind the rise in the popularity of Fortaleza. He said Sao Paulo Airport has a relatively limited capacity and Recife Airport has little room for expansion, factors that could benefit Fortaleza.
He also emphasised that Fortaleza Airport already has extensive expansion plans in place and many of the upgrades are underway. “There is a real possibility that Fortaleza will become the main gateway from Europe into Brazil,” Jorge said.
International visitors to Ceará
The state tourism authorities (SETUR) have recently released statistics for international visitors to Ceará in 2018. Almost all nationalities saw a sharp increase because of better flight connections. The rise was particularly pronounced among Dutch visitors – up 123.8% last year compared to 2017. KLM introduced direct flights to Fortaleza from Amsterdam in May 2018.
Scandinavia visitors also increased significantly along with Belgians. Danish tourists went up by 83%, Swedish by 81.2% and Norwegian by 75.9%. Visitors from Belgium rose by 80.7%. Air France also started direct flights to Fortaleza Airport last year and as a result, French visitors saw a rise of 48.3%.
New attractions in Ceará
One of the biggest attractions in this part of Northeast Brazil is its coastline. Kitesurf on the western beaches is particularly popular among European visitors. As a result, this part of Ceará has seen an exponential rise in tourism. Destinations like Jericoacoara are perennial favourites, but new spots on the Ceará coast such as Trairi are fast making a name for themselves among European tourists.
According to SETUR, foreigners spend an average of 10.3 days in Ceará and spend R$5,100. The vast majority (89%) express the wish to return to the state for another holiday.
(Source: Diario do Nordeste)