Brazil decides against opening to foreign carriers

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm •  Published: December 2, 2013
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Many of Brazil's airports are outdated, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Airports in both cities are getting minor facelifts, but major improvements won't be ready until after the Cup.

Moreira Franco acknowledged there will be few upgrades for the World Cup, but said things would be ready for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He said airport privatization aimed at improving services had taken longer than expected.

"In the Olympics we won't have any problems of any nature," Moreira Franco said "We are having some (problems) today because of the structure of Brazilian airports, and only now are we working to bring them up to the 21st century."

James Carrol, an American engineer who travels regularly between the United States and Brazil, summed up problems as he departed Rio's main airport.

"We're concerned about the load that's coming next year and the following year," he said. "I think the language barrier is going to be fine, but being ready to handle all the airplanes coming in? We don't think it's going to be ready."

High prices are a concern, through for some it won't matter.

In an email to the AP, Dubai-based United Aviation Services, which provides business, charter flights, and tour packages, estimated that 11 percent of visitors to the World Cup will travel into and around the country by private jets. UAS's estimate for South Africa four years ago was 7 percent.

UAS also estimated 3,000 business aircraft will be flying in Brazil during the World Cup. Its figures indicate hotel prices will be higher than they were in London for the 2012 Olympics, though it said it could not say how much higher.

Embratur, the state-run tourism agency, has said rates may increase up to 500 percent during the World Cup in some hotels offered by the FIFA-appointed agency MATCH Services. The Brazilian Justice Ministry has asked hotels to explain, and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff has created a committee to monitor hotel prices.

The government may have little clout, however, since airlines and hotels are free to set prices.

Local newspapers reported last month that hostels in some host cities were charging $435 per night, per person, for a room with a shared bath. Some flights between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo — a 45-minute shuttle — are selling for $800 round trip, and could be even higher during the World Cup.

Online travel services show prices for some mid-range hotels in Rio topping $1,500 a night during the World Cup.

"It's the equivalent of peak-season flying," said Mann, the airline industry analyst. "If you want to go somewhere when everybody else wants to go, you can expect to pay more. That's just economics 101. No one is going to repeal the laws of economics for this event."

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Follow Stephen Wade at http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP

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