As World Cup deadline looms, Brazil’s airports go to extra time and penalties

With only a week to go before Brazil kicks off against Croatia in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup finals, construction is still under way on many of the airports that will be receiving the hundreds of thousands of fans who will attend the tournament. 

A report from the Reuters news agency found that "only about half the projects promised for the World Cup have been delivered and many of those are only partly done". And according to Infraero, the state-owned Brazilian airport authority, many of the country’s international airports are in a chaotic condition.

Only about half the projects promised for the World Cup have been delivered, and many of those are only partly done– Reuters

At Tancredo Neves International Airport in Belo Horizonte, passengers arriving and departing have to negotiate their way around construction equipment, and workers in orange jumpsuits mix with travellers on the main concourse. Francisco Araujo, a technician working at the airport, told a reporter from the newspaper Folha de São Paulo: "Only God could fix this in time." Six games including a semi-final will be played in Belo Horizonte.

At the international airport in the coastal city of Salvador, a control tower and the renovation of a passenger terminal have not been finished, and Infraero has not said when they will be. International and domestic arrivals are separated by temporary barriers and passengers are being harassed by illegal taxi drivers.

In Manaus, in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, travellers are complaining of the clouds of dust from the terminal’s expansion works; the airport itself is surrounded by a ring of trucks and construction vehicles. Four games will take place here. 

One of two terminals in the capital Brasilia, which were built last month, have not yet been authorised by safety regulators.

An Airbus A320 landing at Pampulha airport in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (sxc/damota)

In Curitiba, a 16km road to Afonso Pena International Airport is a construction zone that funnels cars from four lanes to one, and triples journey times. According to Infraero, this airport will not be fully complete for another two years. 

The infrastructure company said elevators would not be ready at the Recife International airport, illegal taxi drivers are numerous and that some signs are only written in Portuguese.

Brazil’s World Cup campaign is already controversial, with FIFA head Sepp Blatter citing delays, the loss of life during construction and workers allegedly living in "slave conditions". 

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has insisted the airports will cope with the World Cup flow. The failure to modernise Brazil’s airport infrastructure in time for the tournament is likely to increase criticism of her government’s decision to sell most of the country’s airports to private sector consortiums.

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