Rio do Janeiro Internacional Airport
Rio de Janeiro
Best Project

Owner RIOgaleão Dealership
Lead Design Firm and Civil, Structural and MEP Engineer Intertechne
Contractor Consórcio Construtor Galeão (Joint Venture of Odebrecht and MPE Engenharia)
Consultant Lufthansa Consulting

To host major international athletic competitions in 2014 and 2016, including last year’s Olympic Summer Games, Rio de Janeiro needed to expand its international airport capacity to about 24 million annual passengers from 8 million, and up to 34 million by 2020. A private-sector venture of Odebrecht Transport, the logistics arm of Brazil constructor Odebrecht, and Changi Airports International, the operator of Singapore’s airport, took a majority stake in the Rio facility in 2014 to expedite project work. The remaining stake was held by state-run airport operator Infraero, says a media report.

Global experts from Lufthansa Airlines and Changi, an award-winning facility and the world’s fifth-busiest traffic airport, were brought in as consultants to execute the project and do “near-real operational simulations during the execution phases, without interruption of the activities at the airport,” says the submitter.

As a result, the team developed an “Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer” (ORAT) program to guarantee successful transfer of the new facilities. The Lufthansa consultants had experience in the use of ORAT in managing safety, security and environmental monitoring during airport upgrades in Johannesburg, Athens and Cologne, Germany. The Athens project was in advance of the 2004 Olympics held in that city.

According to the submitter, “Safety was a major challenge in this project mainly due to the scarce time and diversified work in the same physical space.” But in nearly 18.8 million hours worked—by a workforce that averaged 3,063 people and peaked at 7,242—there were no fatalities or serious occurrences, and the accident rate logged in at just 1.6 events per million hours, the team notes.

The team points to daily work-safety training and awareness-raising as well as the formation of an internal accident-prevention group, composed of employees chosen by both the company and the workers themselves, that analyzed daily risks in work execution.

Work was undertaken in an area that totalled 17.8 million sq meters, including 155,286 sq m of new building space constructed and 131,868 sq m renovated. The team cited the boosted efficiency resulting from the airport’s curved linear design, which decreases the distance for passengers between the airplanes and terminal arrival.

In announcing the expansion, the concession said the airport apron area would expand by 80%, increasing to 97 aircraft parking spaces. Set to include new smart space-finding systems, the main vehicle parking garage’s four new floors added 2,100 spaces. The concession also noted a new concourse, linked to Terminal 2 by 26 new jet bridges; 68 new check-in desks, added to the current figure of 22; new security cameras, installed in both airport terminals; and the remodeling of the cargo terminal.

Further, the team noted the use of recyclable, so-called Bubbledeck material, which cut concrete-slab weight by as much as 35%, as well as a more durable floor mixture, developed at the project’s on-site batch plant. Construction of a new operations center physically integrates all airport and airline operational areas so they can be monitored on a new “videowall.”

Terming the expansion “truly a megaproject,” one judge was impressed with its use of “diverse, international experience to overcome design and schedule challenges.”

In late September, Brazil’s civil aviation regulatory agency granted preliminary approval of the sale of Odebrecht Transport’s controlling stake in the airport concession to China’s HNA Airport Holding Group Co. Ltd.: HNA reached a deal in July to buy Odebrecht”s 60% share of the private group’s 51% total stake. Changi Airports International holds the remaining 40%.The Brazilian government remains the 49% minority stakeholder. The transaction is part of an effort by Odebrecht to divest assets to cut debt, according to media reports.

Related Article: Global Best Projects Awards 2017