UK & World News

  • 12 June 2014, 12:13

World Cup Airport Strike Threatens Chaos In Rio

Thousands of football fans flying to Brazil for the start of the World Cup are facing a chaotic welcome, after ground staff voted to stage a 24-hour strike.

Hours before the tournament gets under way, workers at Rio de Janeiro's Galeao airport, which is expected to be one of the busiest in Brazil over the next four weeks, have declared a partial walkout in a row over pay.

Baggage handlers and check-in staff will join colleagues at the city's Santos Dumont airport - an important hub for flights to Sao Paulo, where England play Uruguay next week - in downing tools.

They have promised to maintain an 80% service and although fans heading to Sao Paulo will be at least be able to catch the subway after metro staff voted against taking industrial action themselves, there is potential for disruption at already-stretched terminals.

Some 2.1 million people passed through the two airports last month - an average of 68,000 people a day - with World Cup arrivals set to bolster those numbers further still.

Sky's Sports Correspondent Paul Kelso, in Rio de Janeiro, said: "This city is a hub for many supporters, including England fans heading for their team's opening game in Manaus on Saturday, and if the strike goes ahead they face disruption.

"The vote by Sao Paulo's metro workers is a significant relief for organisers, but it may not lift the considerable anxiety around the start of the tournament."

After a build-up dominated by delays to infrastructure projects, deaths at stadium construction sites and protests over spiralling costs, the World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo later today.

The host nation face Croatia in the tournament's curtain-raiser after an opening ceremony featuring performances by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull.

England's first match is on Saturday and as Roy Hodgson's players continue to acclimatise, the pitch at Manaus' Amazonia Arena where they will face Italy appears to be in poor condition.

A journalist for the AFPnews agency said the playing surface was noticeably dry and particularly bare around one of the goals, "revealing large yellowing areas of turf".

Advertisement