Brazil raises the game

IT behind the FIFA World Cup

Despite its exit from the tournament, Brazil emerged from the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ with its head held high, coping with record passenger numbers, technology played a huge role in raising the country's game.

The raw facts are impressive enough. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, Brazil welcomed more than one million international visitors – 67% more than expected. Of those, 60% were visiting Brazil for the first time.

The World Travel & Tourism Council expects 6.4 million international tourist arrivals in Brazil in 2014 as a whole, and growth to 14.2 million by 2024. That’s welcome news for the country’s economy after numbers had been lingering around five million in recent years.


From an air transport perspective, the figures were equally impressive. At R$ 8.78bn (c. US$ 3.92bn), the largest investment ever made in Brazil’s air transport infrastructure resulted in a 52% increase in passenger capacity.

Some 16.7m passengers used airport services during the event. On 6 July, a record 548,000 passengers used the airports, more than the 467,000 recorded during the 2014 carnival.

There were 236,000 take-offs and landings over the four weeks, an average of five a minute. And at 7.46%, flight delay rates were lower than the European standard rate and half the international standard rate of 15%.

In the meantime, average baggage reclaim time was just eight minutes for domestic flights and 28 for international flights.

The country’s largest airport – São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) – was the busiest, with 3.81m passengers passing through it over the competition period.

New benchmark

The press has quoted Brazil’s Minister of Civil Aviation as saying these “extremely significant figures …smoothly translate the biggest investment ever made in the area of airport infrastructure in Brazil.”

Referring to data from the 2010 tournament, he cited the fact that three airports in South Africa had a 2.6 million passenger flow.

In the same period last year, 15 million passengers went through airports Brazil, which experienced an 11.2% increase.

Doubtless with an eye on achieving similar performance levels for the 2016 Olympic Games, the Minister suggested that this set a new benchmark for the country.

“If we were able to reach these standards, there is no reason why we can’t provide this level of service for Brazilians every day.”


Ever since the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, SITA’s technology has played a key role in major world sporting events. This year’s FIFA World Cup was no exception.

The focus once again centered on two core objectives, to:

  • Help airlines and airports minimize operational risks during the event.
  • Offer agility in resolving any glitches that upset normal operations.

In Brazil – in addition to services for domestic and international airlines flying to and from the country – SITA provided solutions to 11 airports and host cities.


Common Use Passenger Processing Systems (CUPPS) and Common Use Self-Service (CUSS) proved to be pivotal in enabling smooth passenger flows, even during peak periods. 

AirportConnect Open kept passengers moving in all locations. At Governador Aluízio Alves International Airport, serving the city of Natal, it was successfully implemented in just one month.

In the meantime, SITA’s support and 24x7 service operations were available to deal with the high levels of passenger traffic in four locations, while Brasília International Airport embraced both BagMessage and AirportHub™.


At Brazil’s busiest airport during the event, São Paulo’s GRU Airport, SITA provided a broad range of sophisticated services creating one of a new wave of so-called ‘intelligent airports’ – including the airport’s IT Master Plan and a next generation Airport Management System.

The airport’s Passenger Terminal 3 is regarded as the most important work of airport infrastructure in the country.

According to GRU’s CIO, Luiz Eduardo Ritzmann: “We’ve brought to our new terminal best-of-breed technology and processes to offer a good passenger experience.

“Terminal 3 introduces to Brazil the concept of an intelligent and innovative airport that makes use of latest technologies for airport management, e-gates, baggage handling, self-service bag drop and more.”

Borders bolstered

Efficient border control is just as vital to coping with the huge influx of international visitors during major sporting events.

A key step to bolster Brazil’s national borders – for both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games – included the use of SITA’s iBorders®.

iBorders® TravelerData captures information on all arriving and departing international passengers, enabling the security body to have complete Passenger Name Record (PNR) and Advance Passenger Information (API) data from airlines before flight departure.

SITA’s border management solutions, used by around 30 governments across the world, enable governments to strike the best balance between security and smooth passenger management.

The iBorders TravelerData solution specifically meets the challenge of collecting, collating and utilizing information at the right time and right stage in the process.

Air traffic

Upgrading Brazil’s air traffic management technology became a primary focus too.

SITA worked in close collaboration with the Comissão de Implantação do Sistema de Controle do Espaço Aéreo (CISCEA), the body responsible for developing and implementing new technologies for DECEA, the Brazilian Air Navigation Service Provider.

SITA was already the provider of Departure Clearance (DCL) and Digital-Automatic Terminal Information Service (D-ATIS) datalink services at Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo’s GRU Airport.

The project to extend these services to 23 airports across Brazil began in December 2013 for completion in time for the Olympic Games in 2016.

DCL, using SITA’s datalink solution integrated with local systems, streamlines departure control. Likewise, using D-ATIS, real-time airport operational and weather information is transmitted to the pilot over datalink.

Together DCL and D-ATIS reduce the overloading of VHF voice frequency and improve efficiency and safety.

In the words of Philip Clinch, SITA’s VP Aircraft Services: “Using datalink makes flying more efficient and even safer. The transmission of data in text format is highly reliable.

“It reduces workload for both air traffic controllers and pilots by improving the accuracy of their communications. And information can be transmitted at any phase of the flight, in advance of the busy time period of departure and approach.”

In another initiative, SITA sponsored IATA's Tactical Operations Portal (ITOP) – a web portal made available to all IATA airline members during the tournament, providing air traffic strategy and tactical daily plans prior to and during the event.

Innovation, experience

The logistics of making major sporting events run smoothly are massive and critical, not least at the airports involved.

The challenge for every event lies in handling the spikes in arrivals and departures. The day after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games is always critical, for example: with tens of thousands of competitors, officials and the media, plus baggage, wanting to move on to the next event or back to their own countries.

For 30 years, SITA has been working alongside host cities and nations helping to smooth the path for those involved in, or attending, world events. 

It started at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, with the introduction of the world's first common use terminal equipment (CUTE) at Los Angeles International Airport. Each event has often involved innovation to suit local requirements.

Those innovations – and the experience obtained – have led to the widespread introduction of new solutions to benefit airline and airport customers, as well as the industry as a whole.

Today the range of critical services includes passenger handling (check-in, boarding and baggage); network communications, capacity and resilience; border management and security, and air traffic management.

Whatever the level of requirement, SITA solutions continue to provide global support for the world’s largest sporting events.

São Paulo’s showcase

An intelligent airport for tomorrow

Two years ago, São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) was processing 33 million people a year with an infrastructure designed for 20 million.

Now, following massive investment in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, GRU is able to process over 42 million passengers a year, with responsibility for about 60% of the country’s international traffic.

Terminal 3

Development has been based around the new Terminal 3, the biggest in Latin America and bigger than both existing terminals put together.

“Critically, the terminal is a showcase for Brazil of an intelligent and innovative airport embracing latest technologies and supporting GRU’s vision to become a first-class airport,” says Luiz Eduardo Ritzmann, GRU’s CIO.

Master plan

“Developments began with a SITA recommended IT Master Plan defining short and long-term actions against a roadmap for infrastructure, airport systems and business process implementation,” adds Ritzmann.


Following the IT Master Plan, SITA was involved in two major initiatives, the first being to expand common-use solutions for both passenger and baggage to the entire airport, for both international and domestic airlines.

That included applying the CUPPS (Common Use Passenger Processing Systems) standard with AirportConnect Open, and the CUSS (Common Use Self-Service) standard with AirportConnect Kiosk. Today there are as many as 570 CUPPS positions, along with 124 CUSS kiosks.


It also included SITA’s BagManager, a comprehensive baggage management system delivering real-time information on baggage status, helping resolve baggage issues quickly and efficiently. It reduces the number of mishandled bags by 10-20% and speeds up the resolution process.

World class

The next major initiative included a next generation Airport Management System (AMS) from SITA. The goal is to simplify and improve the airport’s operational efficiencies to deliver a world-class passenger experience, proactively controlled from the Airport Command and Control Center, which is monitored by the Center of IT Operations.

Today, all IT systems at the airport have been replaced, from the airport management system to the cargo management system, to the way they park aircraft, or handle passengers and baggage.

Ritzmann again: “We needed to be sure that our common-use solutions, combined with AMS, would give us the highest levels of resource optimization and support an end-to-end passenger experience.  This has been the case.

“The new technology from SITA enables the airport and its stakeholders – including airlines, customs and immigration, and ground handlers – to collaborate based on the same real-time information, making fully-informed decisions on resources and other issues.”

SITA's events record

SITA has supported the world’s major sporting events for 30 years, including:

  • Olympic Games – Los Angeles (1984), Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), London (2012), Rio de Janeiro (2016).
  • FIFA World Cup – South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014).
  • Formula 1 Grand Prix – Abu Dhabi (annually since 2009).

No. 1 Airport provider

In more than 1,000 airports worldwide, SITA’s technology is moving air travel closer to the vision of a hassle-free passenger, delivering an integrated, seamless self-service passenger experience – from check-in through security, to boarding the aircraft and border security on arrival.

Leading, pioneering

As the number one information and communications technology provider to airports, SITA leads in common use self-service systems (CUSS and CUPPS).

The constant focus on helping airports become more innovative and efficient sees a drive to pioneer and implement technologies such as business intelligence, NFC, wearable technology, beacons, cloud and more.

Here are a few facts about SITA’s leadership in airports:

  • Presence and service at over 1,000 airports worldwide, supported 24/7 by over 1,200 IT professionals.
  • 95% of all international destinations covered by SITA‘s network, with connections to 13,500 air transport sites.
  • 1.3 billion passengers checked in using SITA’s CUTE.
  • 36% reduction in wait times experienced by users of SITA's 5,500 kiosks at 400+ common-use airports.
  • iBorders Self-Service Border Control systems can allow passengers to cross the border in as little as 8 seconds.
  • SITA has played a major role in the 53% reduction of mishandled baggage within the industry since 2008.
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