Posted by BrazilMax:Edited by Richard Lapper
An end to Brazil's aviation crisis?
Finally, some action. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has ordered that the country's air traffic controllers' demands be met after the controllers - most of whom are sergeants in the air force - went on hunger strike, then stopped work altogether on Friday evening, bringing Brazilian aviation to a total halt. The resulting chaos - in which one passenger died of a heart attack - may at last resolve the state of permanent near-crisis in place since September, when 154 people died in a mid-air collision that exposed serious shortcomings in air traffic control and in airport infrastructure.
Mr Lula da Silva has promised a solution by Tuesday, to avert more chaos over the Easter break, threatened by controllers if the government fails to keep its word. Yet their demand - demilitarisation and better pay - is a first step that should have been taken months ago towards solving the sector's long-term problems. An overhaul of Infraero, the government-controlled company that runs Brazil's airports, remains nowhere in sight.
Despite plenty of warnings, the government was caught off guard by Friday's events. Most directors of ANAC, the new civil aviation authority, were at a wedding. The defence minister, a personal friend of Mr Lula da Silva's who is responsible for the mess, left Brasília with the hunger strike already under way for a personal engagement in Rio de Janiero. It is time the farce ended, before more people die.