Rio de Janeiro: Planned closure of airspace over Rio`s Guanabara Bay during sailing competitions at next year`s Olympics would "paralyze" air travel and affect more than 150,000 passengers, airlines said Friday.
Currently, airliners on domestic routes fly low in over the bay past the dramatic Sugarloaf Mountain to Santos Dumont Airport, in the heart of Rio de Janeiro.
But airspace could be cleared for news helicopters for four and a half hours a day between August 8-18, when the sailing regattas are held at the 2016 Summer Games, the Brazilian Airlines Association said.
But the airport "could have its operations paralyzed," the ABEAR said in a statement.
"The flight ban would impact more than 150,000 passengers, based on an average of 104 canceled flights a day."
The group said a meeting was held Thursday to discuss industrial action during the Games if the airspace closure goes ahead.
"In addition to your direct flights there are the connections," said Ronaldo Jenkins, ABEAR director of flight operations.
"About 70 percent of flights going through Santos Dumont are connected with airports in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Vitoria."
The airlines called on Olympic organizers instead to base filming of the sailing on the Sugarloaf Mountain, or to time any helicopter flights in close coordination with scheduled airliner flights.
The Rio2016 organizing committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.