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.
PANAMA CITY, Panama–Portuguese flag carrier TAP will be the newest airline to start services into Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport. The airline, member of Star Alliance has informed that will operate a Lisbon-Bogota-Panama City flight in 2014. TAP will be the fifth European carrier to operate to the Panamanian “super-hub” airport (Iberia, KLM, Condor and Air France operate non-stop flights to Tocumen). The airport is COPA Airlines connecting hub, called “The Hub of the Americas” and it is also the busiest airport in Central America. The second busiest airport in Central America is Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaria International Airport, but after Avianca’s dismantling of its hub, most probably this place will be taken over by El Salvador’s Comalapa International Airport.
BOGOTA, Colombia–Avianca Airlines owner German Efromovich is looking to extend his wings to Europe and his eyes are on Alitalia or the Polish flag carrier LOT. Efromovich was born in South America but has Polish ancestors. He purchased the Brazilian LCC Ocean Air (today dbas as Avianca Brazil), later he purchased the TACA Group and Ecuadorian AeroGal. Last year Efromovich tried purchasing TAP Portugal but at the end of a long process he was not able to achieve it. “I need my airline to have more presence in Europe, buying existing airlines or creating a new one”, Efromovich declared to a newspaper in Colombia. The Polish government has also informed of its interest to privatize the flag carrier LOT (Polskie Linie Lotnicze) in 2014. Alitalia is member of DELTA’s Skyteam Alliance and LOT is member of UNITED’s Star Alliance. Avianca Airlines is also a member of Star and the second biggest airline in Latin America after LATAM Airlines (LAN and TAM).