Avianca Brasil has joined Azul to become the second Brazilian airline to promise to cap prices for the upcoming soccer World Cup, which opens June 12 in São Paulo. Avianca said it would match Azul and limit one-way fares to a maximum of 999 reais (US$ 425).
Brazil’s airline industry has come under pressure to control fares from the national government, which has threatened to intervene if price increases are seen as gouging customers.
The government has made similar threats against hotels, some of which have increased prices as much as five times.
Brazil’s tourist agency Embratur has estimated between 500,000-600,000 foreign fans will visit Brazil with more than 3 million local tourists traveling to matches in 12 cities across the continent-size country.
“I think this promotion is going to attract more passengers,” Avianca’s chief executive officer Jose Efromovich said in Brasília.
Despite the cap on prices, fans could still face long trips going through many airports that are old and outdated. Brazil is slightly larger than the continental United States, but smaller when Alaska and Hawaii are counted.
Later this week authorities are expected to authorize new domestic flights. Four Brazilian airlines have requests with the government to add 1,523 extra flights during the World Cup period. However, the added routes could put more pressure on the already crowded airports and related infrastructure.
Both airlines said capping fares would result in losses, and they noted the World Cup was unprofitable since it drove away regular business travelers. Air will be the only mode of travel for most foreigners. Brazil has limited rail service and the road network is underdeveloped and crowded.
A study published in October by São Paulo newspaper Folha de S. Paulo showed that airfares during the World Cup were up to 10 times more expensive than normal.
Air travel is only part of a list of problems surrounding the World Cup, which opens on June 12 in Sao Paulo and ends on July 13 in Rio. Only six of the 12 World Cup venues are ready, and three of the six may not be delivered until April.
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