Wednesday, May 21st 2014 – 07:15 UTC
President Dilma Rousseff has “guaranteed” Brazil’s airports will be prepared to welcome visitors for the World Cup, which starts on June 12 in São Paulo. Rousseff made the comments on her weekly ”Breakfast with the President” national radio program following criticism that a number of airports which were promised to be completed for the key football tournament remain unfinished.
“I guarantee that our airports are prepared for the World Cup,” Rousseff said. “We are going to welcome everyone extremely well, and Brazilians will be able to be proud of the Brazil we are building.”
The president stressed that although new and expanded airports were timed to help Brazil welcome the influx of World Cup visitors, both from abroad and traveling around the country, the new facilities were aimed primarily at improving Brazilians’ lives.
“The investments will be good for the World Cup, but much more important for meeting Brazil’s own growth in demand,” she said.
Airports in four host cities – Belo Horizonte, Cuiabá, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro – will be completed only after the tournament has finished.
The government has admitted the delays, but the president argued in the case of Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte that the airport alternations were not specifically for the World Cup but built for the longer term view.
Viracopos Airport, located in the city of Campinas around 80 kilometers northwest of São Paulo, used by many for domestic flights within Brazil and which will serve seven national teams for the World Cup, has also been delayed.
Likewise in one of the latest setback, heavy rain caused flooding in the passenger terminal of the World Cup airport in the jungle city of Manaus on Monday, upsetting travelers and forcing officials to temporarily close some areas.
The new terminal at São Paulo’s main Guarulhos International Airport, opened by President Rousseff is expected to boost capacity by 12 million passengers a year and has been operating since May 11 but travelers have complained of a number of issues, including the terminal’s baggage handling system.
As a result, some airlines were delaying transferring operations to the new terminal until after the World Cup had concluded, local media reported early in May.