By MARCO SIBAJA
2014-01-17 06:01 AM
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- Brazil's air regulator approved 1,973 new flights on Thursday, which it hopes will meet demand during the World Cup and keep fares from soaring.
"From here on there will be more flights offered, and we hope there will be a reduction in prices," said Marcelo Guaranys, president of ANAC, Brazil's civil aviation authority.
The new flights will be operated primarily by Brazil's four main carriers -- TAM, Gol, Avianca and Azul. Nearly all the flights are domestic routes.
Avianca and Azul have already announced they will cap one-way fares at 999 reals, or $425, during the World Cup. TAM and Gol have not announced caps.
The World Cup opens June 12 in Sao Paulo and ends July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.
Guaranys said ANAC will watch ticket prices during the World Cup.
Brazil's airline industry has come under pressure to control fares from the national government, which has threatened to intervene if price increases are seen as gouging customers.
The government has made similar warnings to hotels, some of which have increased prices as much as five times.
Brazil's tourist agency Embratur estimates between 500,000 and 600,000 foreign fans will come for the World Cup and predicts more than 3 million local tourists will travel to matches in 12 cities across the continent-size country.
Despite the fare caps and added flights, fans could still face long delays and bottlenecks going through many airports that are old and outdated.
Brazil is slightly larger than the continental United States, but smaller when Alaska and Hawaii are counted.