Travel between Brazil and the US is going to be a lot easier now. The two nations have signed an open skies agreement with Brazil that will open up a number of new routes. Available immediately are 21 new routes to the following regions/cities: North, Northeast, Center West and Belo Horizonte. In June 2009 seven new routes will be added; seven more will be added in October 2009 (excluding the dreaded Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo); fourteen more will be added in October 2010 (again, with the exception of Guarulhos).
American Airlines has applied for ten of the new slots with an eye towards starting in November. The proposed routes include Miami-Salvador-Recife on a daily basis and Miami-Belo Horizonte on a thrice weekly basis. I'm betting traffic will increase with the latter route. Delta is requesting eleven routes: Atlanta-Manaus on a daily basis and Atlanta-Recife-Fortaleza four times a week. Delta is expressing interest in adding Belo Horizonte later.
This is such good news. I have been hoping for years that Brazil start promoting itself more aggressively as a destination for US visitors. Lately I've been seeing subway and bus ads promoting tourism in Brazil and an entire doubledecker tour bus today was doing the same.
The expansion of destinations is so important. If I can avoid a trip to Guarulhos airport, as I have mentioned before, I'm a happy man. That airport and Tom Jobim airport in Rio simply cannot take the traffic that is being flung at them. If you're traveling to Salvador, going through Sao Paulo only assures you of one thing: you'll miss your connection.