Brazil tries to assure tourists airports are OK

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm •  Published: May 20, 2014
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SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil is trying to assure World Cup tourists that they won't face problems at airports even though not all upgrades will be complete.

The chronic delays in airport renovations have matched those in stadium construction, and officials have acknowledged for a while that visitors will be using unfinished airport facilities. Now they are stressing that everything will be OK for fans on arrival.

Wellington Moreira Franco, Brazil's civil aviation minister, said in an interview with The Associated Press that "all airports will be prepared to adequately" receive World Cup tourists and all "major" projects will be completed.

"I would tell tourists not to worry," Franco said.

A day earlier, President Dilma Rousseff used her weekly radio show to "guarantee" the airports will be ready.

But the government's attempts to downplay concerns come as problems continue to arise three weeks from the start of the tournament. In the latest setback, heavy rain caused flooding in the passenger terminal of the World Cup airport in the jungle city of Manaus on Monday, upsetting travelers and forcing officials to temporarily close some areas.

Construction continues at full pace in many airports, and some of the renovation projects initially planned for the World Cup will be completed only after the tournament.

"Of course, we all wanted the work to be ready, but it's not," Franco said. "But that doesn't mean that there will be problems. The work is not finished, there are some delays. But that's not keeping us from being prepared."

The government predicts 3.7 million people will travel in the country during the World Cup, including 600,000 from abroad. Airports are crucial because nearly all of the travel between host cities will be by air.