SAO PAULO, June 24 (Reuters) - Brazilian airlines see traffic falling sharply during the World Cup as a slump in business travel outweighs the flood of foreign fans, adding to mixed signals about the economic benefits of the month-long tournament.
Airline group ABEAR forecasts a drop in domestic passengers of 11 to 15 percent from a year earlier, association president Eduardo Sanovicz told reporters on Tuesday, based on traffic during the first week of the tournament, which began June 12.
The estimate reinforces concerns about weak business travel during the World Cup raised by executives of Brazil's two biggest airlines, Gol Linhas Aereas SA and the TAM division of Latam Airlines Group SA.
Still, Sanovicz said Brazil's aviation industry had so far avoided the high-profile tangles projected by some observers due to a late, unfinished effort to overhaul major airports. The temporary closure of airports in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Curitiba for weather reasons have not caused major disruptions, he added.
Economists expect the World Cup to give little if any help to Brazil's sluggish economy, although it should improve the country's reputation for business and tourism, according to a Reuters poll last month. (Reporting by Roberta Vilas Boas; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Grant McCool)