World Cup airport plan B: terminal in tent

Pinto Martins International airport in Fortaleza. Work on Brazil's chronically overcrowded airports ahead of the World Cup is far behind schedule.
Pinto Martins International airport in Fortaleza. Work on Brazil's chronically overcrowded airports ahead of the World Cup is far behind schedule. Photo: Reuters

Brazil's Fortaleza airport in the north of the country is delaying major renovations until after June's World Cup, opting instead for plan B -- an improvised tent terminal, an official said Tuesday.

The city of Fortaleza is home to one of the tournament's 12 venues and its airport is just one of several across the giant country needing extensive upgrading to cope with a tourist influx as hundreds of thousands of fans descend on each locale.

"Work is running way behind schedule. Unfortunately, despite our holding several meetings on deadlines, the consortium did not fulfill" obligations to be ready in time for the Cup, secretary of state for aviation, Moreira Franco, said.

Fortaleza will stage four matches of the June 12 to July 13 event and plans were to lift airport capacity from an annual current 6.2 million passengers to 8.6 million.

Work started on a 311 million real ($148.2 million) overhaul last March but by last month the project was only one quarter complete, web news portal G1 reported.

Last week work stopped owing to a strike as workers demanded late salaries and bonuses.

Now, authorities have bowed to the inevitable and opted for a temporary terminal.

Gustavo Vale of state aviation body Infraero, which administers most of Brazil's airports, said the structure would be similar to that deployed for December's World Cup draw at the resort of Costa do Sauipe in the northern state of Bahia.

"It will be a high-tech terminal. It will have everything a normal terminal would have -- restaurant, check-in area," G1 quoted Vale as saying.

Fortaleza's first match will see Uruguay meet Costa Rica on June 14 but three days later will host Brazil's game against Mexico.

Nationwide, Brazil, which is struggling to overhaul creaking transport infrastructure across the country, is set to welcome some 600,000 foreign tourists during the World Cup as well as three million domestic visitors.

Work is running behind schedule at around half of the stadiums.

AFP

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