Three of Brazil’s largest airports were privatized earlier this month in a public auction that netted $14.3 billion—almost three and a half times the minimum set by the government for the trio of contracts.

The three international consortiums take over operations of Guarulhos in São Paulo, the Viracopos Airport in Campinas and the President Juscelino Kubitschek Airport in Brasilia from the country’s public operator Infraero.

The three contracts include approximately $2.6 billion in improvements to the three airports, a full third of which must be completed in time for the 2014 World Cup. Together, the three airports handle 30% of Brazil's air traffic and are considered a key part of the country's ability to handle the large crowds expected for the international event.

"We had very aggressive bids right from the start, which shows the appetite of participants," said Wagner Bittencourt, the chief minister for the Dept. of Civil Aviation in a press conference following the auction on Feb. 6.

The Brazilian government will continue to be closely involved in the airport operations. Each consortium will own 51% of a concession with Infraero and the financing for all of the deals was backed by Brazil's state-owned development bank, BNDES.

The 66 airports in Brazil run by Infraero have seen passenger numbers double over the past decade, while upgrades to the facilities have been rare. Last year, about 180 million passengers traveled through the facilities, an increase of 16% over the year prior. By the time of the World Cup, the number of passengers is expected to increase by another 40% over the next four years, to almost 226 million.

The concession to operate São Paulo’s Guarulhos airport was won by Invepar-CSA, a consortium made up of Brazilian investment fund Invepar and the South African airport operator ACSA. The investment company, which comprises 90% of the consortium, operates other transportation systems, including the Rio de Janeiro subway and several toll roads.

Guarulhos is the Brazil’s largest and busiest airport, handling 30 million passengers annually. To win the 20-year contract, Invepar beat out 10 other offers with a $9.4-billion bid. The next-highest offer was $7.5 billion by Brazilian toll-road operator Eco Rodovias, allied with Germani's Fraport. The third-place consortium, made up of another toll-road operaor, OHL, and Aena of Span, bid $6.9 billion. The government’s mandated minimum bid was $1.98 billion.

The contract for the Guarulhos concession includes $2.7 billion in improvements to the facility, which will involve the construction of a new terminal capable of handling seven million passengers a year as well as upgrades to runways, parking lots and other infrastructure. Almost 60% of the improvement investment must be completed in time for the World Cup.

On Feb. 8, a new $49.4-million terminal designed to handle five million domestic passengers annually opened. The 13.1-million- sq-ft new terminal, located almost a mile from the airport's runways, was included in the contract won by Invepar-CSA, officials said.