Union fears layoffs as Varig cancels flights

Brazilian authorities said Wednesday that they have a plan to retrieve thousands of passengers left stranded abroad when Varig airline canceled most of its international flights, while organized labor expressed fears about impending layoffs. Defense Minister Waldir Pires told Radio Nacional that the civil aviation agency, ANAC, will require cooperation from other Brazilian airlines to bring home the stranded Varig passengers.

“We will have to act as if it were a military operation,” he said according to EFE news wire.

“We expect the participation of all licensed air-passenger service providers to aid the citizens who are abroad with tickets on another carrier and who have the right to return,” the minister emphasized.

Varig, having canceled scores of flights over the past week, announced Wednesday a major restructuring of both domestic and international routes to give priority to the most-profitable ones.