South America comprises of 12 nations, which are visited by thousands of tourists from around the globe all year long. The region has grown to become a major tourist destination owing to the massive increase in flights by major global airlines to the continent. According to data collected on flight schedules for the past ten years by OAG Aviation, air capacity from and within the continent has substantially increased from 140,013,680 available seats in 2005 to 259,462,050 available seats in 2014.The increase represents a growth of 85.3% for the entire period with an average increase of 9.5% annually. Capacity has also risen by 2.3 % in the past year. The continent consists of different large airports some of which are still growing.
The Three Busiest Airports Of South America
1. São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport
The São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport serving the city of São Paulo in Brazil is the busiest airport in South America with about 35,962,000 passengers. Located in Guarulhos, Brazil the airport is locally known as Cumbica Airport, it was officially opened in 1985. The airport has had a few name changes or additions, it was named after São Paulo state's former Governor, André Franco Montoro from November 21, 2001, but in 2012 it rebranded as GRU Airport. Guarulhos is one of the five airports in Brazil that has slot restrictions operating with a maximum of 45 operations per hour.
2. El Dorado International Airport
Located in the largest and capital city of Colombia, El Dorado International Airport is the second busiest Airport in South America with approximately 25,009,483 passengers. The airport had 304,330 air traffic movements in 2011 and cargo traffic handled in 2013 was 622,145 metric tons, while passenger traffic in the airport ranked among the top 50 busiest airports in the world. The airport serves as the largest and central hub for Colombia's national flag carrier, Avianca airlines. It also serves LATAM, EasyFly, Satena, and Copa Airlines Colombia among other cargo companies. El Dorado is the largest airport in the country and also Colombia's main domestic and international air gateway. El Dorado is a major airport in Colombia accounting for about 49% of the country's air traffic. The World Airport Awards named the El Dorado International Airport as South America's best airport. Skytrax also rated El Dorado as the best airport in the continent and together with its staff it received a four-star certification. In the 2017 list of the World's Top 100 Airports, El Dorado achieved the 42nd place.
3. Congonhas-São Paulo Airport
With 17,119,530 passengers, Congonhas-São Paulo Airport is among the South America's busiest airport and is located in São Paulo, Brazil. Congonhas is among the four commercial airports serving the São Paulo area of Brazil the other three being São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, Viracopos International Airport, and Campo de Marte Airport. The airport is operated by Infraero and owned by the City of São Paulo, and it is among the Brazilian airports with slot restrictions.
Air travel in South America is dominated by airports in Brazil holding 12 slots in the list of the top 20 busiest airports. Argentina and Colombia hold two slots each on the list. Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador hold one slot each on the top 20 list. Some of the most popular airlines in South America include: Avianca, LAN Airlines, Gol Air Transport, Aerolineas Argentinas and TAM Airlines including others.