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Brazil To Add 1,973 Flights For World Cup

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Brazil's aviation regulator ANAC said it will likely grant airlines' requests to add 1,973 new flights to deal with the demand expected during World Cup soccer matches in June and July.

Although the expansion in flights and routes represents only 1 percent of the existing system in Brazil, the number of requests exceeded the 1,500 new flights that had previously been expected.

"We will grant all the requests. The system has the capacity to handle those new flights," ANAC's head, Marcelo Guaranys, told reporters in Brasilia.

The new flights should help contain the rise in air fares for which carriers have come under scrutiny recently. Azul and Avianca Brasil pledged earlier this month to cap domestic prices at BRR999 reais (USD$424).

Brazil's two biggest carriers, Gol and TAM came under fire last year when the government noticed ticket prices soaring during the World Cup.

Brazil's biggest airlines have been cutting routes, returning aircraft and firing flight staff over the past two years to restore profits amid high fuel prices and a deteriorating exchange rate.

The local aviation industry is under pressure as one of the biggest potential embarrassments at the World Cup. The dozen host cities where games will be played are scattered around the country, which will force around 3.6 million fans through a series of overloaded airports.

ANAC said it expects the airlines to return to their normal number of flights once the World Cup is over.

(Reuters)

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