By Jaylan Boyle, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Eight of Brazil’s major metropolitan airports have been described in a recent report as facing an imminent inability to cope with increased traffic that could lead to a complete “logistical blackout.”
Undertaken by São Paulo’s Applied Economics Research Institute (IPEA), the report focuses on those cities likely to receive the bulk of the dramatically increased traffic during Rio’s hosting of the 2016 Olympics and the FIFA World Cup 2014.
The IPEA says it has found that, in many cases, airports are operating well above their state-prescribed safety margins in terms of traffic handled, or are running perilously close to them.
In particular, the report singles out airports in Manaus, Amazônia’s main center, as well as São Paulo’s crucial hubs Guarulhos and Congonhas as being the worst affected by the crisis. Manaus is currently handling seventeen incoming and outgoing flights during peak hours, as opposed to the nine with which the airport is rated as safely being able to cope.
According to the IPEA, companies freighting goods into or out of Manaus have had to significantly scale back their operations recently.
São Paulo’s two major airports, which will take the brunt of the incoming flux of tourists when the city hosts the 2014 World Cup semifinals, are operating at around 25 percent above their maximum capacities. Congonhas can technically deal with a maximum of 24 incoming and outgoing flights per hour, but at peak times this figure usually increases to around 34.
The report does not address the airports of other cities that were chosen host World Cup games, such as Cuiabá, Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza, but does state that the authority is worried about these as well, and the enormous budgets that have been proposed to put into place their overhaul remain months away from being rubber-stamped.
“The situations considered serious and of concern are those when the use of existing capacity is above eighty percent. Critical cases are those when the operational capacity is clearly overwhelmed and results in a deterioration of service level. In these cases, depending on the percentage reached, the situation is considered as on the verge of operational collapse,” the IPEA report further stated.
The Institute argues that in order to rescue the situation from the brink of collapse, the federal government must tighten its control and overseeing of spending by airports, which have no clear set of investment priorities to deal with increased traffic.
The Brazilian airport authority, Infraero, announced in 2009 that it would be investing seven billion dollars prior to the two major upcoming sporting events, but apparently airports like Manaus have yet to see any funds.