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Second Brazilian airline pledges cap on World Cup airfare

An aerial view of the Arena Amazonia stadium, under construction to host 2014 World Cup soccer matches, after work was suspended by a labor
An aerial view of the Arena Amazonia stadium, under construction to host 2014 World Cup soccer matches, after work was suspended by a labor

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Avianca Brasil became the second Brazilian airline to cap the cost of traveling during this year's World Cup on Tuesday, putting more pressure on the country's two biggest carriers to do the same.

Avianca will not charge more than 999 reais ($420) for domestic flights from February to July, Chief Executive José Efromovich told reporters. Rival airline Azul pledged the same ceiling for airfares in June and July, when Brazil hosts the global soccer tournament.

The head of Brazilian tourism agency Embratur, Flavio Dino, applauded the move by Avianca and Azul in a Tuesday release, urging other airlines to follow suit.

Gol Linhas Aereas and TAM, the local unit of Chile's Latam Airlines Group, came under fire last year when the government noticed ticket prices soaring during the World Cup.

Some of that tension could ease starting on Thursday, when ANAC is expected to authorize about 1,500 new domestic flights for the World Cup, expanding travel options between cities hosting games, which should provide some relief for prices.

Avianca requested 430 of those additional routes, Efromovich said on Tuesday, part of the airline's plans to expand its Brazilian network by 19 percent this year.

TAM, Brazil's biggest airline, is also loading up on extra routes for the World Cup. The carrier announced on Tuesday that it had requested permission for 850 new domestic flights and over 200 additional international flights in June and July.

The new flights will cost more then 50 million reais to operate, TAM said, in addition to the cost of hiring and training over 1,000 temporary employees.

($1 = 2.35 Brazilian reais)

(Reporting by Roberta Vilas Boas; Editing by Peter Galloway and Andrew Hay)

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