São Paulo/Congonhas–Deputado Freitas Nobre Airport ( IATA : CGH , ICAO : SBSP ) is one of the four commercial airports serving São Paulo , Brazil . The airport is named after the neighborhood where it is located, formerly called Vila Congonhas , property of the descendants of Lucas Antônio Monteiro de Barros (1767–1851), Viscount of Congonhas do Campo , first president of the Province of São Paulo after the independence of Brazil in 1822, during the Empire . In turn, the Viscount's domain was named after the plural of a shrub known in Brazil as congonha-do-campo ( Luxemburgia polyandra , of the Ochnaceae family). The airport was initially planned in 1919, but it did not open until 12 April 1936. The site was outside the built-up urban area at the time, and it was chosen because it had favourable winds and lay on a high hill with little vegetation. The airport was opened with a 300-metre (984-ft.) long dirt runway. In the beginning it was the private airport of VASP , built as an alternative to Campo de Marte which, already at that time, had operational difficulties. VASP started services to Rio de Janeiro on 5 August 1936, advertising two daily round trips of 90 minutes' flight time in each direction, starting a route that would eventually become one of the world's busiest . By 1957, the airport was the third busiest in the world for air cargo . Until 1985 Congonhas was the main airport of São Paulo operating domestic flights, as well as international service to neighbouring countries such as Argentina , Uruguay , Paraguay , Chile , Peru and Bolivia . Due to Congonhas' short runways , unable to accommodate most long-haul jets , intercontinental flights required changing planes at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão or were operated at Viracopos airport. However, Viracopos' distant location, in Campinas , 97 km (60 mi) from downtown São Paulo, made that choice inconvenient both for passengers and for airlines, so a connection in Rio was usually preferred. Since June 19, 2017 it is officially named after Deputy Freitas Nobre. The name Congonhas however remains mostly used. It is owned by the City of São Paulo, but operated by Infraero . Congonhas has slot restrictions operating with a maximum of 30 operations/hour, being one of the five airports with such restrictions in Brazil.