updated 12/4/2007 7:13:47 PM ET 2007-12-05T00:13:47

Airlines operating in Brazil will have to compensate customers for delays of longer than a half an hour, paying more as waits grow longer, the nation's top aviation official said Tuesday.

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Defense Minster Nelson Jobim announced the measure as part of a package to end the air traffic chaos that has roiled Brazil for months.

"We mounted a system that will create compensation to the passenger and will discourage delays," Job told reporters in Brasilia.

The new system, that should be implemented by presidential decree before Christmas, will require airlines to pay customers 5 percent of the ticket price for delays of between 30 minutes and one hour and up to 50 percent of the price for delays of more than five hours.

Jobim also said the government was raising landing fees and at Sao Paulo's Congonhas and Guarulhos airport, two of the countries busiest, starting in March, to stimulate airlines to use other airports as hubs.

Brazilians have sporadically suffered through long airport delays ever since the Sept 29, 2006 crash of a Gol airlines 737 sparked protests from air traffic controllers, who said they were over worked and poorly equipped to do their jobs.

A second crash in Sao Paulo in July which killed 199 people further aggravated the crisis.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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