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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Brazil air chaos follows strike
Brazilian airliner over Rio de Janeiro (archive picture)
Almost 100 flights were cancelled as a result of the strike
There have been chaotic scenes at most of Brazil's airports as airlines tried to find flights for thousands of passengers caught up in a strike.

Airports resumed flights after air traffic controllers suspended a strike to protest about working conditions.

The strike briefly halted all flights out of the country's airports.

The action spread across Brazil after air traffic controllers went on hunger strike in the capital, Brasilia, leaving thousands stranded.

For several hours, Brazil's huge air traffic network was at a total standstill as controllers refused to authorise any take-offs or landings.

Long queues snaked outside airport halls, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, after nearly 100 domestic and international flights were cancelled and many more were delayed.

"The situation will not return to normal before three days," the head of the state airport authority Infraero, Jose Carlos Pereira, said.

Police were called to the main airports to help deal with passengers furious at the delays, reports say.

In Brasilia, a group of passengers invaded the tarmac when their plane for the south-eastern city of Belo Horizonte was rerouted to a different city, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Brasilia is the main traffic control centre for all flights through central Brazil.

Ongoing crisis

It was the culmination of a crisis in the system that has created major delays across the country for several months.

In the early hours of Saturday, the controllers agreed to resume work after the government agreed to begin negotiations on increasing the salaries of the controllers and to discuss removing at least part of the system from the control of the military - a key demand of the unions.

The striking controllers had said they had lost all confidence in their commanders and the equipment at their disposal.

Air traffic controllers in Brazil have staged similar protests since last September, when 154 people were killed in the country's worst air disaster.

The BBC's Tim Hirsch in Sao Paulo says internal flights have been in a state of chaos since the crash.

Air traffic control in Brazil is under the control of the air force, and most controllers are military and non-unionised.

Brazil flights crippled by strike
31 Mar 07 |  Americas

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