CARACAS, Venezuela–Air Canada says it has suspended its flights to and from Venezuela due to civil unrest. In a statement posted on its website Monday, the airline says it can no longer ensure the safety of its operation in Venezuela, which has been roiled by daily street protests over crime and a deteriorating economy for more than a month. The airline’s last flight left Caracas on Sunday. It is offering refunds to those who have purchased tickets for flights after that. Foreign airlines have struggled under a $3.3 billion debt owed by the Venezuelan government. President Nicolas Maduro said Friday any airline that reduced or suspended flights in and out of Venezuela would face severe measures. He said any airline that leaves won’t be allowed back while he is in power. Avianca will cancel flights bewteen San Jose, Costa Rica and Caracas by April 7th. Also the Colombian flag carrier will reduce frequencies between Bogota and Lima and the Venezuelan capital.
CARACAS, Venezuela–President Nicolas Maduro warned airlines not to limit flights in and out of Venezuela, days after Avianca reported was reducing flights to Caracas amid industry complaints of billions of dollars in unpaid debts. “Airlines have no excuse to reduce their flights to Venezuela”, Maduro said during a press conference. “If airlines reduce flights, I will take severe measures.” Airlines have struggled to obtain dollars in exchange for the Bolivar currency as a result of long-running delays in Venezuela’s 11-year-old currency control system. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week said that airlines are owed USD $3.7 billion and that some are considering halting service to Venezuela. “If an airline leaves the country, it’s not coming back while we are in government”, Maduro said, casting the airlines’ complaints as part of a wider economic war against his socialist government by political foes and businesses. Maduro also said, however, that his government would pay debts to the airline industry. Avianca Holdings, operator of Colombia’s biggest airline, on Thursday told travel agents it will cut flights between the countries’ capitals to one day from three as of March 20th. Avianca will suspend flights between Caracas and San Jose, Costa Rica, as part of an effort “to match supply to market needs” and reduce the number of seats available between Caracas and Lima. The company’s Chief Executive said that currency controls hade made it difficul to bring revenue worrth about USD$300 million out of Venezuela. German airline Lufthansa said this month its 2013 financial results took a double-digit million euro hit from payment issues in Venezuela. Maduro said that various airlines around the world were ready to step in and cover any unfilled routes. “They’re asking permission to cover flights to Colombia, Panama, Central and South America”, he said without giving more details. Venezuelan state-run air carrier CONVIASA is expected to take over several routes like the Caracas-San Jose run.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Avianca informed on March 12th, it will suspend its San Jose-Caracas-San Jose route effective April 7th. The route has been operated by LACSA since the seventies when the service connected San Jose with the Venezuelan capital with stops in Panama City, Barranquilla and Maracaibo. When LACSA was purchased by Salvadorian TACA International Airlines, the route was changed to a non-stop flight between the two capitals. Last May Avianca (the Colombian flag carrier that purchased 70% of Grupo TACA) decided to shut down the former LACSA’s hub at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, cancelling the non-stop flights to New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Monterrey, Havana, Quito and Guayaquil. The next route to be cancelled was San Jose-Miami and now “adios Caracas”. Costa Ricans will be forced now to fly via Bogota using the Avianca services or Panama City with COPA Airlines. It is now expected the Costa Rican government and AERIS (the private company that manages the Juan Santamaria International Airport) will request Venezuelan flag carrier CONVIASA to take the route.
LA PAZ, Bolivia–Effective May 23rd, the Bolivian flag carrier Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) will start non-stop flights from La Paz to Miami. The news were announced by the airline general manager Ronald Casso at a news conference in the Bolivian capital. The airline will operate wide-bodied Boeing 767-300, like the ones its already using to Madrid. Boliviana de Aviacion operates Boeing 737-300s to Buenos Airres and Sao Paulo. Casso declared the airline’s next airport in the U.S. after Miami International will be Washington-Dulles. The biggest ethnic concentration of Bolivians is precisely in the U.S. capital. In 1925 Guillermo Kyllmann founded in Cochabamba LAB Airlines (Lloyd Aereo Boliviano). The airline served as Bolivia’s flag carrier until it ceased operations in 2008. In April 1992 another Bolivian airline was founded under the name of AeroSur; and it suspended its operations on May 2012. Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) is expected to also extend its operations to other ALBA counties like Venezuela and Cuba.
CARACAS, Venezuela–After announcing this week the devaluation of its currency (the Bolivar), the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is practically isolated. The Venezuelan travel agencies have stopped selling airline tickets after some international carriers like Air Europa, Iberia, Air France, Lufthansa, TAP-Portugal, TAME, COPA, United and American Airlines also decided to suspend ticket sales. The Venezuelan Government has a debt of up to 2800 million Euros with all the international airlines operating to the socialist country. This week governement officials met with Air Europa executives, hoping to find a solution in order to pay the debt with the airline, up to 130 million Euros, but it seems both parts couldn’t reach an agreement. The economist Francisco Faraco has defined the situation as “The Bankruptcy of the Venezuelan State”. Its believed that more airlines will suspend sales and most probably operations to Venezuelan airports in the near future.
QUITO, Ecuador–TAME’s General Manager Fernando Guerrero informed on January 23rd the Ecuadorian flag carrier suspended temporarily its scheduled flights from Quito to Caracas. The reason for the suspension of services comes as a result of the problems the airlines are having in Venezuela, securing their sales earnings to be transferred by the Central Bank of Venezuela’s CADIVI Department (Comision de Administracion de Divisas) the government’s control center of foreign currency. Since April 2013 the CADIVI has not transferred the funds to TAME, an amount of $43,174,603. Fernando Guerrero also informed as soon CADIVI transfers the funds, TAME will reinstate the flights to Caracas.