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Brazil's holiday travelers storm airport

Brazil's holiday travelers storm airport

Brazilian holiday travelers incensed about an overbooked flight stormed an airport tarmac Wednesday to prevent a commercial jet from taking off, and a tourism industry leader said two months of chronic flight delays have created a "disaster" for tourism in Latin America's largest country.
About 30 passengers with tickets from Sao Paulo to the northeastern city of Recife got out of a bus parked outside a Tam Linhas Aereas SA jet at one of Sao Paulo's two airports, and surrounded the plane after the crew closed its door and the passengers feared they would not be let on, Brazil's Globo TV reported.
Police removed the passengers from the tarmac, but the protest delayed the flight for about two hours, and was a repeat of similar incidents last week, when Brazilians invaded runways at several jammed airports plagued by delays just before Christmas.
Separately, Leonel Rossi Junior, international affairs director for the Brazilian Travel Agency industry group, said Brazilian air travel chaos since late October has sent sales of tour packages plummeting by 15 percent just as the industry enters its busiest season of the year.
Brazil is heading into high holidays, with children out of school until late January at the height of the South American summer. Because of the flight delays, many Brazilians are now considering driving instead of flying to vacation destinations.
Meanwhile, tour operators fear international sun seekers who want to escape the cold winters of Europe and North America will be spooked away from Brazil by incessant media images of travelers sleeping in airports while awaiting flights to all parts of the nation.
"Everyone saw the suffering of people at the airports," Rossi said, calling the delays a "complete disaster."
In the capital of Brasilia, Defense Minister Waldir Pires announced that authorities were banning overbooking and new charter flights in preparation for a new crush of air travel over the busy January 1 holiday, one of the most popular holiday periods in the country of 185 million.
The government also wants to avoid travel nightmares over the weekend because travelers in droves are expected to head to Brasilia for the Jan. 1 inauguration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, when he will be sworn in for a second term, Brazil's Agencia Estado news agency reported.
Brazil's air travel delays began about a month after a September 29 collision between a Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA Boeing 737 and an Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet killed 154 passengers in the country's worst air disaster.
After the crash, air traffic controllers significantly slowed airline operations by following regulations to the letter in a "work-to-rule" protest to demand better pay and working conditions.
On December 5, authorities suspended takeoffs from three major airports for several hours after an air control system failed, prompting an unprecedented wave of flight cancellations.
The air travel woes resurfaced on December 19, when Sao Paulo's domestic airport - the country's busiest - shut down because of bad weather.


Updated : 2021-04-19 12:11 GMT+08:00