Confusion over air travel with WCup 5 months away

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm •  Published: January 8, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Five months from the start of the World Cup, Brazilian authorities seem unsure about how to handle the crunch of international visitors, many of whom are expected to rely on air travel for the month-long tournament.

The chief of staff for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said this week that a presidential decree was being considered to open more air routes to foreign carriers, partly aimed at keeping down soaring prices.

The state-run tourism agency Embratur, which expects about 500,000 visitors, also said foreign carriers may be needed to help move traffic to the 12 host cities.

Those views clash with the position of Civil Aviation secretary Wellington Moreira Franco who, in a recent interview with The Associated Press, said the body would rely on domestic operators only.

"We will consider all possibilities, including opening the market," Gleisi Hoffmann, Rousseff's chief of staff, told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

She said it could be done quickly through what she called "provisional measures."

Robert Mann, an independent airline industry analyst and former airline executive based in New York, said foreign carriers coming in at the last minute might make matters worse.

"It will simply add to the congestion already experienced in Brazilian air traffic control, airport and terminal facilities," Mann said in an email to the AP, adding a similar surge in Brazilian carriers could cause the same problems.

"While the inbound international flying is relatively easily planned, the key issue is that much of the intra-Brazilian flying would be almost at a moment's notice since it corresponds with which teams advance in the early rounds. So one may plan in theory, but the actual demand may differ in practice."

Carlos Ebner, the International Air Transport Association director for Brazil, said any changes would be complex and require time.

"The logistics are complicated," he said in a statement to the Brazilian Association of Airlines. "These are not buses. It takes three or four months at least in advance for companies to be able to plan."