By George Utley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the start of the World Cup 2014 a mere three weeks away, President Dilma Rousseff today moved to alleviate concerns that the country´s airports will not cope with the strain caused by an expected 3.7 million passengers, including up to 600,000 foreign tourists, between June 12th and July 13th.
Speaking on her weekly radio program Café com a Presidenta (Coffee with the President,) Rousseff spoke optimistically about Brazil’s ongoing infrastructure plans, despite delays which will continue long after the tournament has finished.
“I guarantee our airports are prepared for the World Cup. We will receive every visitor very well. Brazilians can be proud of what we are building” claimed the President, and also praised the developments that have been completed in Rio, where Galeão international airport’s capacity has “increased by eighty percent.”
However, President Rousseff did not mention the delays in the schedule for Marechal Rondon’s completion, in Cuiabá, in the state of Mato Grosso, where only 75 percent of planned works have been carried out. The airport is considered the most overdue in the country according to the latest survey, and the renovations will not be ready for the World Cup.
The survey, conducted by INFRAERO, the State owned airport operator, also confirms that the promised new Viracopos terminal in Campinas, near São Paulo, will not be delivered in time for the tournament. Improvements to Confins airport in Belo Horizonte, and Fortaleza International, will only be half-completed by June.
Five of Brazil’s largest airports – Guarulhos, Brasília, Viracopos, Confins and Galeão – are already under the administration of private companies, with INFRAERO holding a 49 percent stake. Rousseff has been criticized from some quarters for being too slow to sell off contracts to private companies, causing the delays to run beyond the World Cup.
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