Airport Chaos in Brazil: Plane Crews and Counter Workers Abandon Posts

Despite the help of the Brazilian Air Force, which is leasing eight of its planes to private airlines, the chaos in Brazil’s airports continued unabated for a fourth consecutive day.

If anything the situation only grew more ominous this Saturday, December 23. Lines, waiting for hours and lack of information continued while the public has been showing their discontent in a much more graphic way, screaming, attacking airlines’ workers and breaking several computers.

Now, the workers themselves are the ones getting revolted. In São Paulo, Rio and Brasí­lia, employees of TAM, Brazil’s largest airline, abandoned their check-in counters alleging they had been assaulted by angry passengers. And TAM’s crews also are refusing to fly maintaining that they have been forced to work way overtime.

Passengers going to Fortaleza, capital of Ceará, had already boarded a TAM plane in Congonhas, the São Paulo domestic airport, this morning, when they were told that they had to leave the aircraft because the crew were refusing to fly due to excessive work in the last few days.

But even after all the crew had left the aircraft the passengers refused to budge and stayed inside the plane waiting for a new crew.
At 1:30 pm, local time, TAM still hadn’t found a substitute crew.

Besides the Air Force, the once number one air carrier Varig is also helping TAM, which has overbooked and now cannot embark all those holding tickets. Varig is lending not only planes but also pilots and staff. The company has already transported more than 700 people this  morning and should fly hundreds more during the day.


  • Show Comments (9)

  • andy murphy

    Thanks once again Rick for sharing the aviation history of Brazil with us.I will be looking up for more details.Regardless, the Brazilian pilots are very good and they have nothing to do with the mis management of the companies they work for. When a Corporation declares bankruptcy, the worst victims are the employees who contributed to its growth. That was what happened to your friend from Panair.I am sorry about it.

    I was also thrilled about the aircraft parts you bought and decorated your house. I have also flown DC À‚´s .Douglas McDonnel also used to make good airplanes before being gobbled up by Boeing.I guess the corporate greed never ends.

    Oh, Catalina float planes ? I have nostalgic recollections of the World Aviation history and thanks for rekindling them. Catalinas were very good,indeed.

    Hope to catch up with you before the New Year and I am sure you are having a wonderful X-Mas.Talk to you later.

  • andy murphy

    Thanks Rick.I am very interested in knowing more about the story of Panair do Brasil and Varig.If you are too busy,would appreciate your indicating some web sites where I can learn more about it.No problem if they are in Portuguese. I have good reading knowledge of the language. Thanks once again and have a Merry X-Mas

  • andy murphy

    Anyone who used to fly VARIG 2 decades ago still remember the fantastic service it provided to the domestic and international passenegers. The same applies to to TRANSBRASIL.Unfortunately, the Brazilians killed the two solid symbols of Brazil, along with TELEBRAS. I think the next institutions to be axed will be Banco do Brasil and INFRAEREO. Good luck to all the Brazilian Govt.

  • Bryan

    Sad situation
    But I have flown in Brazil on outside and internal airlines many times and never had problems. I imagine this is more Christmas craziness and it is unfortunate. The employees though are just as unhelpful as they are in the US. MY own lost luggage arrived but not without much misinformation and hassle that was totally unnecessary.

  • Rick

    To Andy: Merry Christmas. There is an article on Panair do Brasil in WikipÀƒ©dia. It was a subsidiary of Panam. The guy for whom the Manaus airport is named pulled political strings to have their license pulled by the government so that Varig could take over PanairÀ‚´s routes and slots. That was in 1965. I knew some of the ex employees. Thousands lost their jobs overnight. One friend of mine could not even talk about it.

    Some of PanairÀ‚´s assets were auctioned off here in 1971. I bought some Catalina parts including wingtip floats, lots of wire, the house I am in now is wired with Panair airplane wire. One of their DC8À‚´s went to Varig and we flew on it many times; service on Varig up until recently was the best. Their problems included insider financial hijinks with Smiles, their own travel agency, and their maintenance division; private interests invoved on airplane sales and purchases; and their structural inability to fire people, slash costs and make tough business decisions because the employees ran the company. They had great service but got their real break in 1965 by simply taking over PanairÀ‚´s business, then years of prosperity due to monopoly-like government concessions. When the windfalls and breaks came to an end, so did the money available for hot towels, three choices of entree on real china, free booze and complimentary slippers.

  • Stephen

    Hey CH.c. Could not have said it better, re Andy’s comments about how wonderful Varig used to be. This is an insult to all the pax in the past 5 years that flew on Varig and had to take the crap the the crews and counter people heaped on the general public. I bought over 40 tickets on Varig in the last 6 years to fly to Frankfurt, London and Paris and then on to Bangkok via Thai Airways. Why did I use Varig ? Because they were a star alliance partner and so is Thai Air. But I got the worst service ever and I was travlling either Bus or 1st class. The crews are old and bad tempered, the seats were broken, the lounges were low class and more than once there was no bathroom tissue on board. Why? The chief purser would only say that it did not get sorry, no nothing. nada nada nada!!! They deserved to go under and Vasp and Transbrasil were no better.
    Varig is out of Star alliance in January thank good. If they ever rejoin I will switch to OneWorld Alliance for good.

  • ch.c.

    And by the way…another obvious lie :
    “And TAM’s crews also are refusing to fly maintaining that they have been forced to work way overtime.”

    No doubt that “land” workers had to work overtime !!!!! But how FLYING CREWS COULD have so many overtime hours…with so MANY planes….GROUNDED ???????

    Something doesnt add up… usual !

    What a joke….full of lies !!!!!!

    Laugh…..laugh….laugh !!!!!

  • ch.c.

    Did Brazilian Authorities…..lied again…on purpose ?????
    Below are some very recent comments…and promises :

    – “We had airlines overbooking, they sold tickets they could not have sold,” Lula said. “The air force is helping and we can expect that by (Sunday) things will get better and passengers will be able to fly with tranquility.”

    – ANAC president Milton Zuanazzi said the situation was expected to be solved by Saturday evening.
    “These problems won’t occur again, they cannot occur on the eve of a holiday,” Zuanazzi told the GloboNews TV.

    All wrong of course….we are Sunday…by now !

    Failed promises…as usual, same lies…as usual !!!!!

    Of course these failed promises and lies occur daily in Brazil.

    Afterall is it a country where nothing work….except daily corruption practices that grows at 3 to 5 times faster than your anemic economic growth ??????

    Funny too that earlier the reason given was due to TAM planes maintenances. Are maintenances not planned months or weeks in advance ? Was it a good management to have so many planes grounded for Christmas and New Year Eve had it been for maintenance reasons ?
    Or was it due to technical mechanical problems with the planes ? Strange that so many
    planes have suddenly mechanical problems…at the same time ! Isnt it ? Were maintenance schedules not respected….before…..puting passengers at risk ?

    And why does Lula now says the mess is due to overbookings…not to maintenance and/or technical mechanical problems ??????

    Who is hiding the real facts ? Who is cheating and lying….once more ?

    Just think about it !!!!!!! It is the same mess, cheating, hiding and lies…that after the plane crash…the US pilots were responsible…until the truths were revealed that Brazil has ATCs shortage, some inept ATCs and many blindspots that Pires still say dont exist !!!!!

    Far too many contradicitions from the Brazilian Authorities own explanations of the actual mess. Or which explanation should be trusted…in those many different explanations ?

    In my own view, there is a government truth cover up similar to their cover up after the plane crash !!!!!

  • Rick

    What killed Varig was the very system originally set up by Ruben Berta, which prevented good business decisions from being implemented and made inside fraud too easy. Varig itself had killed Panair do Brasil and took the spoils thereof.

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