Brazil is an enormous country, it ranks as the world's fifth largest. It has over 200 million inhabitants and a very dynamic air traffic. Airports and airfields add up to nearly four thousand installations throughout the country. Out of that number, 34 are international and 2464 are regional airports. This is the second largest concentration of airports in a country, surpassed only by the US. The terminal of São Paulo is the largest in the country. Ticket prices are expected to increase the closer we come to the World Cup's start, but a few general guidelines can help you find the best alternative to get to Brazil.
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Brazilian big three
The three largest Brazilian airlines have traditionally been, in order of importance, TAM, GOL and VARIG. TAM Airlines is the largest airline in Latin America and offers direct flights to Sao Paulo Garulhos (GRU) from Heahrow. It also offers flights from Ediburgh through code-sharing agreements. GOL is the leading low-cost airline in the South American market, and is bound to offer the best rates for regional travel. The company does not, however, offer transatlantic flights. VARIG, which used to be the third most important Brazilian airline, was recently acquired by GOL to compete against TAM.
Several European airlines offer direct flights from different international airports to Brazil. British Airways is, as expected, the only European airline to offer a direct flight from London Heathrow to Brazil, specifically to Rio de Janeiro International (GIG). This alternative tends to be less expensive than TAM's flight from the same airport to Sao Paulo Garulhos (GRU). To the same destination, however, there are flights offered by Swiss Airlines and Air Canada, with a stopover in Houston, that are considerably cheaper than the ones offered by British Airways. TAP, the Portuguese flagship airline, offers some affordable tickets too, with a stopover in Portugal.
The US airlines that travel to Brazil are American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines. American Airlines is the biggest in the world and offers flights to most international airports in the country. Delta and United fly exclusively to either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. There are bound to be many flights offered by any of these companies from the UK to Brazil, with stopovers in the United States, but they are neither particularly affordable nor quick, since stopovers can add a few hours each way.
Naturally, there are airlines that travel to Brazil from all around the world, and if you don't live in the UK, you might want to look into their offers. Emirates and Qatar offer flights from the Middle East, and Air China and Singapore Airlines are the best options to fly over from the Far East. They fly to San Pablo. Maroco Royal Air, TAAG Angola Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines are the alternatives when travelling from Africa, and they all do either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.
Hunting for bargain tickets on international airlines used to be almost an art form. Nowadays, there are many websites that gather the information directly from the airline's databases and display it through highly customisable filtering options. These are great tools, but should not be the end-all of your market research. You should take different variables into account and choose the alternative that suits not only your budget, but the amount of time you are willing to spend on route, the stop overs and if the final destination is close to your accommodations.