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World Cup Weighing On Brazil Air Travel

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Brazilian airlines have seen traffic falling sharply during the World Cup as a slump in business travel outweighs the flood of foreign fans, adding to mixed signals about the economic benefits of the month-long tournament.

Airline group ABEAR forecasts a drop in domestic passengers of 11 to 15 percent from a year earlier, association president Eduardo Sanovicz told reporters, based on traffic during the first week of the tournament, which began on June 12.

The estimate reinforces concerns about weak business travel during the World Cup raised by executives of Brazil's two biggest airlines, Gol and TAM.

Sanovicz said Brazil's aviation industry had so far avoided the high-profile tangles projected by some observers due to a late, unfinished effort to overhaul major airports. The temporary closure of airports in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Curitiba for weather reasons have not caused major disruptions, he added.

Economists expect the World Cup to give little if any help to Brazil's sluggish economy.

(Reuters)