Christmas Brings Chaos Back to Brazilian Airports

On the eve of Christmas, Brazil’s main airports have once again become a battleground of discontent, tumult, long lines, hours of delay and, at times, total chaos.

In Rio’s Tom Jobim International Airport the military police brought  armed agents after people threatened to break the airport’s installations. In Brasí­lia a group of disgruntled passengers invaded the runway.

At 5:30 am, today, the Rio Federal Police arrested Roberto Maurí­cio Ferreira Ribeiro, a surgeon, charging him with stirring up trouble. He was supposed to fly to Maceió in the state of Alagoas by TAM, but the air company was only allowing people going to Recife, capital of Pernambuco, to board.

The Maceió stop-over cancellation generated protests. TAM informed that some enraged passengers broke a computer and the counter on Terminal 2.

In São Paulo, both the international airport in Guarulhos and Congonhas were having delays averaging 5 hours. Nothing compared to Tom Jobim’s, however. where a flight to Miami was more than 12 hours late.

According to the ANAC (National Agency of Civil Aviation), Brazil’s airport authority, 35% of the flights today are being delayed at least one hour. The problems, they say, started Wednesday afternoon, December 20.

The Brazilian Air Force, which is in charge of air flight control in the country, tells that trouble started due to a heavy rain in the southeast region of the country, where are São Paulo and Rio are located.

The problem got worse, said the Air Force, when TAM, Brazil’s largest airline, suffered a failure in its computers preventing passengers from checking in. The company, however, denied having any computer glitch.

Cancellations and delays made some passengers very aggressive. A woman in Congonhas attacked a TAM employee while waiting for a delayed flight. About 300 people ended up sleeping on the chairs and floor of the airport’s departure hall.

At the Juscelino Kubitschek’s International Airport, in Brasí­lia, flights were being delayed up to four hours this morning. The situation became tense when a group of disgruntled passengers invaded the airport’s runway and despite the heavy rain sat down on the air strip until they were forcefully removed by the airport’s security.

People waiting for hours in Congonhas were more restrained. About 100 of them signed a petition addressed to the Justice. Brasil Filho, who should have embarked at 8:30 pm, yesterday, but was still waiting for his plane at 8 in the morning today told reporters about his frustration "Indignation is widespread. We are without water, without sleeping, without information. We have people who are 75 years old, and 8-year-old children."

ANAC released a note apologizing for the delays. The agency informed that the problem this time wasn’t the fault of flight controllers but the airlines. TAM confirmed that their domestic flights were 2.5 hours late in average and that they had cancelled 26 flights.



You May Also Like

In Brazil, Lula Thinks He’s Leading. He’s Being Led.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva claims that his administration governs for all, ...

French Filmmaker Faces 8 Lawsuits in Brazil for Documentary on Fishing Village

French documentary maker José Huerta is facing eight legal proceedings, including one criminal charge, ...

Brazil’s Major Meat Exporter Buys Meatpackers from Argentina and Uruguay

Brazilian company Marfrig FrigorÀ­ficos e Comércio de Alimentos S.A., one of the largest producers ...

In LatAm’s Poor Showing on Share of World GDP Brazil Does Best

Debt, inflation and Asia’s strong economic growth forced Latinamerica’s share of the world’s GDP ...

Brazil Says It’s Ready to Help Bolivia If Asked

The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, met today with the President of ...

Over 7% of Brazil’s Treasury Bonds, US$ 55 Billion Worth, Are in Foreign Hands

The amount of Brazilian treasury bonds in foreign hands reached a record figure in ...

Due to Prejudice Majority of Jobless in Brazil Are Women

Women form the majority of the unemployed in Brazil’s six metropolitan areas – Rio ...

Brazil Election Bodes Well for Kerry

With 99% of the vote counted, it is official: José Serra (PSDB) takes the ...

Brazil Hopeful Unemployment Rate Will Drop Below 10%

Brazil’s government is acting on the premise that it is possible to generate jobs ...

Brazil Uses G8 Summit as Showcase for Its Biofuel Programs

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was invited to participating in the G8 ...