Brazil Ready for Varig Shutdown. There Is Even a Secret Contingency Plan.

The Brazilian government is looking for a solution to the Varig problem which will protect Brazilians who are abroad. "We will not let Brazilians get stranded because of this," says minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim.

In extreme cases Brazil might even pay the ticket for Brazilian unable to afford it. "Itamaraty will protect and assist Brazilians who are abroad. We will do everything we can, but somethings are out of our hands," said the minister.

The Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) says it believes there are some 16,000 Brazilians abroad, with over 5,000 in Germany at the moment for the World Cup.

This week up to this Friday afternoon, June 16, the Brazilian carrier, which is going through severe financial turbulence, cancelled a total of 112 domestic and international flights. 

Some of the cancelled flights were shuttle (ponte aérea) Rio-São Paulo, which fly out of the downtown Santos Dumont airport. Some other flights were to fly out of the Tom Jobim International Airport to the US and other destinations.

On Wednesday, June 14, judge Luiz Roberto Ayoub, announced that he was still examining the only bid made at a Varig auction on June 8. The bid, for slightly over 1 billion reais (US$ 444 million), was made by a group representing Varig employees.

The president of the Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil) (ANAC), Milton Zuanazzi, says that his organization has a contingency plan in case Varig goes bankrupt.

"We continue to hope there will be solution for the Varig problem. But just in case, we have a plan. It would be irresponsible for ANAC not to have alternatives," he declared.

However, Zuanazzi added that the plan was secret and would only be revealed if Varig went bankrupt and stopped all operations. "By keeping the plan secret we avoid panic," he explained.

ANAC spokespersons reported that so far they have received only three complaints about late Varig flights. That was on June 6 in Rio (2) and São Paulo.

The Varig problem remains undefined. No one knows when the judge will reach a final decision. If he decides not to accept the bid, the company will probably be declared bankrupt. In that case it is automatically grounded.

ABr

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