Brazil falling short in rush to overhaul World Cup airports

Mon Apr 7, 2014 6:37pm EDT
 
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By Brad Haynes and Anthony Boadle

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - With less than 10 weeks until the start of the World Cup, work on crucial new airport terminals has fallen behind in most of the dozen Brazilian host cities, heightening the risk of overcrowding and confusion during the tournament.

A temporary canvas terminal will be used instead of a planned airport expansion to receive fans in Fortaleza, which will host six matches including Brazil's game against Mexico.

During President Dilma Rousseff's visit to an airport in Belo Horizonte, the site of a semi-final, officials admitted on Monday that construction would not be completed in time.

Back-up plans are also being prepared in other cities.

"Other airports have not said anything yet, but they will probably have to come up with contingencies," said Carlos Ozores, a principal at aviation consultancy ICF International who has consulted for Brazilian airlines and airport operators.

Concern over Brazil's airports is especially acute since they represent some of the tournament's most lasting investments. A host of other transportation projects have been scrapped or postponed, adding to criticism that the World Cup will leave few long-term benefits for ordinary Brazilians.

Soccer legend Pele said on Monday he worried that the state of Brazil's airports could ruin the opportunity presented by the tournament, adding that he was saddened to see rushed efforts when his country had years to prepare.

Quick fixes and last-minute deliveries are a recipe for chaos in the complex aviation industry, analysts say. Bungled openings of terminals from London to Denver took months to straighten out.   Continued...

 
A worker carries a rock at the site of the delayed construction of a new terminal at the Pinto Martins International Airport that is supposed to help with increased traffic during the 2014 World Cup, in Fortaleza January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Davi Pinheiro