Chaos in Brazilian civil aviation peaked Monday with 38% of flights delayed and another 20% cancelled, reported Infraero the agency which manages the country's airports.
Of the 1.637 flights scheduled Monday in Brazilian airports, 625 suffered delays of over an hour and another 328 simply did not take off. Since the week end chaos in Brazilian air space seems to have become the rule. On Saturday morning an electric breakdown knocked out the whole air control system in the north of the country affecting communications with Central and North America and forcing flights to be rerouted. Problems have cascaded since last Tuesday when an Airbus 320 crashed in Congonhas, Sao Paulo and Brazil's busiest airport, killing over 200 people. The main landing strip has been since cancelled and was to be reopened Tuesday but hopes dissipated when heavy rainfall forced the collapse of the end of the runway, precisely where the Airbus shot past crashing into a TAM cargo storage and fuel depot. Congonhas is operating with an auxiliary runway. Infraero president Brigadier Jose Carlos Pereira said "security comes first and we must take measures to address the issue. I'm afraid passengers will have to pay for increased security and this means higher air rates". Pilots from TAM and Gol, the main Brazilian airlines, rerouted several flights from Congonha to Cumbica arguing they feared to land under rainy conditions (as happened with the Airbus tragedy). Last Friday, three days after Brazil's worst air accident, President Lula da Silva said operations in Congonhas will be drastically reduced and promised a new airport for Sao Paulo, the country's industrial and trade hub. An estimated three million people will be affected by the closure of Congonhas. Pereira who is under intense pressure from the press and opposition, said that Brazil welcomes international cooperation but from "competent organizations" such as the International Aviation Organization.