Brazil to declare no-fly zone over World Cup stadiums

Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:27pm EDT
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By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The Brazilian Air Force will declare no-fly zones over World Cup stadiums to prevent terrorist attacks during this year's soccer tournament, but there's a catch: it can't shoot down intruders, for now.

By law, Brazil's military can only shoot at unresponsive civilian planes on drug trafficking routes near its borders, but not over densely populated urban areas where games will be played in 12 cities.

The Air Force is asking the Brazilian government to change the shoot-down law to allow effective defense of the air space during the 64 games of the June 12-July 13 global soccer tournament, said Air Force Brigadier Antonio Carlos Egito at a news conference on Friday.

In the meantime, the anti-aircraft guns to be deployed near the stadiums cannot be fired at a plane flying into a no-fly zone, said Egito, the military chief of air traffic over Brazil.

The Air Force and civilian aviation regulator ANAC announced that for security reasons commercial flights will not be allowed to land at eight airports that are within the 7.2 kilometer (4 nautical mile) no-fly radius around the stadiums.

The suspension will begin one hour before games kick off and last for 4 to 5 hours, though take-offs will not be restricted. They do not affect the country's main international airports.

The suspensions will mostly disrupt flights at Rio de Janeiro's domestic airport Santos Dumont and complicate the logistics of Brazilian carriers that have already sold 3,000 seats on flights that will have to be canceled.

PLENTY OF SEATS   Continued...

A general view of the Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium, one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup, in the Sao Paulo district of Itaquera March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker