SAO PAULO (AP) – A Brazilian judge has stopped building work to renovate and expand Brazil's largest airport for the 2014 World Cup.
A federal judge issued an injunction to halt construction at the Sao Paulo international airport because the expansion project was allegedly initiated without a bidding process.
Judge Louise Vilela Filgueiras Borer in Sao Paulo said in a statement Monday that Infraero, the government agency that oversees airport infrastructure, illegally ordered the work to begin, saying it was an urgent project to avoid air travel chaos during the World Cup.
The judge called it a ''made-up urgency,'' saying it was an excuse to avoid the bidding process. She noted that the need to avoid air transportation problems in Brazil is far from new.
''It's a public necessity that exists for years and only now there is a rush to address it with urgency, saying that the population will be harmed if the work is not completed in 180 days,'' the judge said.
Infraero's press office said Tuesday the agency was aware of the judge's decision and denied any wrongdoing. It said the agency would take all the necessary legal measures to get the work under way again.
The Sao Paulo airport, which will gain a third passenger terminal when the work is concluded, is a major air hub in South America. It receives the vast majority of international flights in Brazil and will be key during the 2013 Confederations Cup and the World Cup, when air travel will be crucial to transport teams and the hundreds of thousands of fans expected during football's showcase event.
FIFA and government officials have been saying that improving Brazil's outdated airport infrastructure is one of the main challenges to prepare the country to host the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The World Cup will be played in 12 host cities across Brazil.
The judge said having the work done in the Sao Paulo airport without a bidding process would create a ''dangerous precedent'' in the future, allowing for ''arbitrary'' decisions that ''would not take public interest into account because of made-up urgencies.''
The judge said Infraero will have to pay a $60,000 fine (?44,000) per day if it does not abide by her decision.
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