Troubles Continue To Plague Brazil's Air Travel Industry
A runway was temporarily closed and three people ended up dead
Monday when a shootout erupted between police and suspected
criminals at Rio de Janeiro's Tom Jobim International Airport.
Two airports in Sao Paulo also suspended their flights to Rio
for 20 to 30 minutes, for fear of the clashes, according to
The three suspects were said to have been from the nearby
"favela, or slum neighborhood, of Dende. They clashed with agents
of Rio's militarized police at the airport. The runway was closed
for about 35 minutes.
Police and federal soldiers have increased operations at the
favelas in an effort to improve the city's safety by deterring drug
gangs and organized crime. This most recent incident happened just
weeks before the Pan American Games scheduled for July 13-29.
This is just the most recent incident in a series of episodes
plaguing the country's air travel industry since last September,
when an Embraer Legacy 600 jet collided in midair with a Gol
Airlines 737 that killed 154 people.
It was Brazil's worst air accident ever; the two pilots and the
five passengers aboard the smaller jet were able to land safely in
a Brazilian Air Force base airport, as ANN reported.
The two US pilots and four air traffic controllers were indicted
by a Brazilian judge earlier this month in the case.
Last week the Brazilian government fired 14 air traffic
controllers and had two of their leaders arrested for staging a
work slowdown that lasted six days and snarled air traffic with
delays and cancellations, according to Reuters.
According to several reports, work slowdowns started in late
October 2006 when controllers launched a work-to-rule
campaign, deliberately slowing operations, due to
concerns about working conditions and new safety procedures
implemented as a result of the mid-air collision. In addition, 10
traffic controllers who were on duty during the September crash
have been suspended, making the workloads even heavier for
Monday, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva publicly
declared his nation's air traffic control system to be safe, just
hours after an incursion on a Sao Paulo runway.