Nearshore Americas

International Airlines Suspend Services to Venezuela One After Another

Latin America’s largest airline, Latam, has announced that it has suspended its flights to Venezuela. The news comes barely a day after Germany’s Lufthansa suspended its services to the country.
The suspension of air services underlines the worsening economic conditions in the South American country. Low oil prices and the socialist government’s expensive social welfare programs have pushed Venezuela to the brink of an economic disaster, with people queuing for hours to purchase basic goods.
In a statement, Latam airlines said flights on its Sao Paulo to Caracas route would be suspended within the next few days, while routes to Caracas from Lima and Santiago would be halted by the end of July. The German airline also flies from its Frankfurt hub to Venezuela’s capital Caracas three times a week, but the company said it would cancel this route from June 17.
Several other international carriers have halted or reduced their Venezuelan operations, including Air Canada, American Airlines and Alitalia. This is due to a drop in demand for business travel to the country, as well as the Venezuelan government withholding airline revenues.
Lufthansa says Venezuela owes the airline millions in ticket revenues. In June last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the Venezuelan government to release $3.7 billion in withheld airline funds.
“Air connectivity in Venezuela has suffered because of the lack of progress over the blocked funds issue and the deterioration in the operating environment. I urge the government to work with the airline industry to resolve the problem once and for all,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
In Latin America, the aviation industry provides over 4.9 million jobs and generates $153 billion in economic activity, according to IATA.
Some airline companies have said that currency controls in Venezuela made it impossible for airlines to convert their earnings into dollars and send the money abroad.

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Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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