Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, changed his morning schedule this Monday, March 12, for an emergency meeting with Defense Minister, Waldir Pires; Air Force Commander, Juniti Saito, and Milton Zuanazzi, the National Agency of Civil Aviation, head.
The president wanted to know why once again the country's main airports were in chaos mode. Heavy rains in São Paulo, Brazil's largest air hub, had already disrupted air traffic on Saturday in Congonhas, the nation's busiest airport.
On Sunday, things got much worse when there was a technical failure at Cindacta 1, Brasília's Air Traffic Defense and Control Integrated Center. Computers there were down for close to one hour.
Congonhas had to be closed twice on Sunday, first due to the rains and then Cindacta failed. The service collapse in São Paulo provoked a chain reaction bringing to a halt operations in the country's Midwest and Southeast.
Close to 30% of 543 flights, this Monday, in Brazilian airports until 9:30 this morning, were delayed for one hour or more. Some Sunday flights had to be rescheduled for Monday adding to the trouble.
For the president of airport authority Infraero, Lieutenant Brigadier José Carlos Pereira, the situation in the Brazilian airports won't be back to normal before Tuesday, March 20.
He blamed the Brazilian Air Force for the Cindacta's failure on Sunday, which, according to him, paralyzed all air traffic for 40 minutes. Pereira told reporters that the problem can reoccur at any minute:
"This should be solved by tomorrow night. But I cannot guarantee that it won't happen again in 15 days. I would be lying if I promised that. In the spirit of telling the population the truth, a problem like the one yesterday can happen again at any moment."
The Infraero chief said that the trouble was that the Air Force's computer at Cindacta 1, in Brazilian capital Brasília went down. He exonerated himself and his department from any blame: "I can only answer for Infraero. When we saw what was happening we started getting ready for the early morning."
On Sunday, Congonhas's main runway was closed for two hours, after the rains flooded the area, which lacks a proper drainage system. This is a problem that will not be solved soon. Congonhas's secondary runway is being repaired. Only in one month when the work finishes the drainage problems can be tackled by the Congonhas administration. This shouldn't happen before June.