IATA critical of state of Brazil's airports
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Brazil's overburdened airports cannot meet demand and are a ''growing disaster'' that could embarrass the country during the upcoming Olympic games and World Cup if they aren't improved, the head of the world's top airline association said.
The language used by Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, to describe Brazil's overwhelmed airports at an industry conference Thursday was some of the harshest criticism yet leveled at the nation on the topic.
''Brazil is Latin America's largest and fastest growing economy but air transport infrastructure is a growing disaster,'' he told industry leaders at a meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association in Panama. The organization represents 230 airlines around the world.
''To avoid a national embarrassment, Brazil needs bigger and better facilities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics,'' Bisignani said.'' But I don't see progress and the clock is ticking. The time for debate is over.''
Brazil's robust economic growth has resulted in increased demands on air travel. Thirteen of the country's 20 largest domestic airports cannot accommodate existing demand, and the situation is critical in Sao Paulo, South America's biggest international hub, Bisignani said.
The rapid growth has resulted in regular and massive delays for air travelers in Brazil.
Experts have said aviation problems stem from chronic underspending on radar, runways and other infrastructure. Safety upgrades, backup systems and even training for air traffic controllers have been put off for years.
Bisignani's comments were pointed, but he isn't the first one to voice concern.
The International Olympic Committee has expressed doubt about the country's ability to upgrade airports ahead of the games. Earlier this year, Rio 2016 committee president Carlos Arthur Nuzman said the IOC's principal concern was the apparent lack of planning to revamp airports.