Brazilian Air Traffic Controllers Face Arrest


The president and vice president of the union representing air traffic controllers in Brazil are facing arrest after controllers staged a four-day work slowdown that caused numerous flight delays and sparked violence at some terminals last week. President Carlos Trifilio and Vice President Moises Gomes de Almeida will likely be arrested next week on charges of violating Brazil’s military code of conduct by publicly criticizing the system in which they work. Both are military officers, as are most Brazilian controllers. Controllers want more pay, better equipment and a lighter workload (sound familiar?) and the slowdown was the second instance of job action by the controllers, who staged a brief strike in April on a holiday weekend.

By Friday, grumpy passengers, many of whom slept on overcrowded airport floors, had stormed airline check-in desks and scuffled with employees. Brazil’s Finance Minister, Guido Mantega, made everything worse on Thursday by suggesting the air traffic control problems were a symbol of the country’s growing prosperity, a notion denounced by the Brazilian media. The air force is looking at ways to fix the ATC problems, but nothing has been done so far.