Brazil to accelerate airport renovations
Brazil plans to pick up the pace of work to improve its airports in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, acknowledging that it is behind schedule while remaining confident it will have the needed infrastructure in place for soccer's showcase.
''We are in a hurry when it comes to airports,'' Planning Minister Miriam Belchior told the official government news service Agencia Brasil. ''But we believe the (actions) we are taking in the critical airports will allow us to finish the work needed by December 2013.''
To expedite work and ensure the renovations are finished in time, the government recently announced that the airport upgrades will be opened up to private investments.
Belchior's comments came just hours after FIFA said Friday it remained concerned with the situation of Brazil's airports and said it told government officials about the need to improve them.
''It's true that work didn't progress as well as we would have liked,'' Belchior said, adding that the delays have forced the government to take action to get things on track again. ''Our challenges in transportation go beyond the needs for the World Cup. It's about securing the country's development after the event, which will last only a month.''
FIFA said Brazil is mostly on track with its overall World Cup preparations, but singled out ''concerns with regard to airport operations and capacities as well as transport infrastructure.'' Secretary general Jerome Valcke said ''it is crucial'' the host cities have ''adequate infrastructure'' to accommodate the approximately 600,000 visitors expected for the World Cup.
The country's airports are outdated and overcrowded, and passenger demands have been increasing significantly because of a strong economy in Latin America's largest nation.
In a related move, Brazil also created an aviation ministry to oversee the country's civil aviation agency and the nation's airport authority.
Brazil's infrastructure investments for the World Cup will reach nearly $20 billion, including about $3 billion on airports.
Brazil also will host the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.