By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With nearly twenty million passengers expected to pass through Brazil’s main airports in a little less than a month, a joint effort by airport authorities and airline carriers at the country’s major flight hubs is under way to insure the passenger comfort and safety during end-of-year travel.
“We are prepared for the end-of-year operations, as we were at the end of last year, at the World Cup and before that the Confederations Cup. Our objective is to guarantee the security of passengers,” said Civil Aviation Minister Moreira Franco during a press conference to announce the special measures to be taken from December 15th to January 10th, 2015.
The operation, dubbed Operação Feliz 2015 (Operation Happy 2015) by ANAC (National Civil Aviation Agency), includes special measures such as a twenty percent increase in airport personnel at passenger terminals and extra aircrafts on hand if needed. Airline companies have also agreed to suspend overbooking practices, and increase air and ground personnel to better serve customers.
During the period an additional 8,800 flights will be made available for air travel in Brazil, according to the Secretaria de Aviação Civil – SAC (Civil Aviation Agency). Officials are forecasting a seven percent increase in air travel during the 2014 end-of-year holidays from the same period last year. Among the airports under the Operação Feliz 2015 are both of Rio de Janeiro’s airports, São Paulo’s Congonhas and Guarulhos International, Campinas’ Viracopos, and Brasilia’s International Airport.
According to ABEAR (Brazilian Association of Airline Companies) airline companies are ready for an increase in demand at the end of 2014 and have already conducted maintenance in all aircrafts anticipating the increase in passengers and flights. The association also stated that their members are placing extra employees on their call-centers and will have more agents at terminals with greater demand so as to reduce check-in time.
“We can say that during this year we have gained experience with the World Cup,” said Eduardo Sanovicz, president of ABEAR. “The success of air transportation during the Cup is the result of the organization and cooperation seen with aviation authorities,” he added.
ABEAR announced that the four major airline companies in the country (TAM, Gol, Avianca and Azul) have made 30-second videos to be shown in the planes giving tips to passengers on how to plan ahead to have a better traveling experience. The tips include to check-in over the internet or self check-in kiosks, have all documents in order, if travelling with children have the required authorization and keep baggage close at hand, since during this time there is an increase in airport thefts.
Another concern is the heavy rains associated with the summer months in Brazil. According to ABEAR although rainstorms may cause problems and delays, the association forecasts that at least 93 percent of flights will take off and land on time.