For Immediate Release
Sept 20, 2007
SAO PAULO, Brazil-Brazil’s civil aviation regulator proposed restricting flights at the nation’s busiest airport on Thursday, hoping to improve safety at the site of the nation’s deadliest plane crash.
The rules proposed by the Civil Aviation Authority would restrict destinations to a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) radius of the Congonhas airport and would bar connecting flights from the airport.
The Defense Ministry will now assess the report, and Defense Minister Nelson Jobim announced separately that authorities will decide within one month the precise location for construction of a third runway at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport.
Guarulhos handled mostly international flights before the July 17 crash at Congonhas, but many domestic flights were transferred there after the crash, prompting officials to revive a long dormant plan for the extra runway.
As many as 5,000 families living near Guarulhos may have to be relocated to make way for the runway, depending on the location selected, Brazil’s Agencia Estado news service said.
The proposals grow out of a review of operations at Congonhas following the crash in which a TAM airliner ran off the runway and slammed into a building two months ago, killing 199 people.
Officials have not determined a cause, but many experts have said that Congonhas’ main runway is too short and that the airport _ Brazil’s busiest _ handles far too many flights.
The 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) limit would let airlines fly to key destinations such as Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and cities in southern Brazil, but not to tourist destinations in the northeast.
TAM Linhas Aeras SA and Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes _ Brazil’s two largest airlines _ previously used Congonhas as a major hub, but are now reorganizing operations.
The regulators also proposed limiting the number of passengers aboard flights, and restricting takeoffs and landings to 33 per hour at Congonhas, cutting overall passenger capacity at the airport to 4,700 per hour from 5,100 per hour.
Jobim, whose ministry oversees Brazilian civil aviation, earlier announced plans to for an escape area at the end of the runway and limits on operations in wet conditions.