Brazil air travel chaos persists

Ticket sales ban as airline involved in last week's disaster cancels more flights.

    TAM cancelled all of its flights
    in and out of Sao Paulo [EPA]

    Knock-on delays

    Last week 199 people were killed when an Airbus A320 operated by TAM slid off a runway at Congonhas and crashed into a nearby building.

    Since the accident all flights have been diverted to a secondary runway and halted altogether whenever it rains.

    The knock-on effects and delays have left thousands of people stranded and increased public disaffection with the government’s handling of the crisis.

    On Tuesday, more than half of all scheduled flights in Brazil were either delayed or cancelled for the third straight day after 590 flights were delayed and 298 canceled, according to Brazil's airport infrastructure authority, Infraero.

    The ticket sale ban is aimed at moving passengers who are already stuck at Congonhas holding tickets, Milton Zuanazzi, the head of the civil aviation office, said.

    Ticket sales at other airports could also be banned if problems are detected, he said.

    Last week's crash, Brazil's worst ever,
    claimed 199 lives [AFP]

    Gol, one of the Brazil's largest airlines, urged its customers to postpone travel at least until Monday as it re-organized its flight pattern.

    About 18 million people normally move through Congonhas each year.

    International flights however are largely unaffected, authorities said as most foreign flights operate through the city’s Guarulhos airport or Rio de Janeiro.

    Memorial

    Meanwhile as people remained stranded at Congonhas, relatives of some of the victims gathered at the airport for a religious ceremony to honour the dead.

    "She died doing what she liked most," Jose Roberto Silva, said of his daughter Madalena, a TAM flight attendant.

    Churches in the southern cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba also held memorial Masses.

    Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, has announced a series of reforms to the country’s aviation systems but many blame his administration for failing to invest enough in airports over the past five years while the number of flights and passengers has increased dramatically.

    There has also been criticism of the country’s handling of the aftermath of last week's disaster.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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