American halts Venezuela flights, citing safety
Petroleumworld 03 18 2019
American Airlines suspended three daily flights to Venezuela today, citing safety concerns.
The move further shrinks the handful of foreign air carriers servicing the volatile Opec country.
American had been operating two daily flights to Caracas and one daily flight to Maracaibo from Miami.
"American will not operate (in) countries we don't consider safe," the carrier said today.
The move came after American's pilots' union (APA) recommended that its 15,000 members not accept flight assignments to Venezuela, following a US State Department decision to withdraw all US diplomatic personnel from the country.
An official with Venezuela´s Inac national civil aviation authority that regulates the operations of commercial and private aircraft dismissed American's explanation as "an excuse for joining the illegal US sanctions against Venezuela." President Nicolas Maduro is now considering whether to ban American from Venezuela permanently, the official added.
The Inac official confirmed that the government has initiated "an administrative investigation" against Panama-based Copa Airlines to determine whether it should be sanctioned for flying opposition leader Juan Guaidó back to Venezuela on 4 March after Guaido ignored a judicial travel ban when he left the country on 23 February.
Long blocked from repatriating profits on local ticket sales, many foreign airlines have already stopped flying to Venezuela. Air Canada, Aeromexico, Alitalia and Brazil's Gol left in 2014 and 2015, Lufthansa pulled out in 2016, and US carrier Delta and Colombia's Avianca left in 2017.
Among the carriers that still service the country are Air France, Turkish and Spain´s Iberia.
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