MIAMI — Air France joins the list of airlines that have either canceled or suspended flights to Caracas, Venezuela, amid rising political tensions in the South American country.
The French carrier has canceled its flights on July 30, 31, and August 1, staying away from the controversial weekend polls where a Constituent Assembly convened by the country’s President, Nicolas Maduro, is due to be held on Sunday.
Elisabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the situation in Venezuela is “very tense and difficult,” and that numerous protests might take place during the weekend.
Air France’s decision to cancel all their flights to Caracas during the weekend is likely to be taken in favor of its overnighting crew, which often stay at a hotel that’s 20 minutes away from the airport in a not-too-safe area.
On top of Air France’s cancellation, the United States government, looking after its citizens, ordered all family members of employees at its embassy in Caracas to leave on Thursday, July 27.
American Airlines—which remains the only US carrier to continue flying regularly to Caracas, with two daily flights from Miami to Caracas, and one daily flight from Miami to Maracaibo—sent an internal memo to its employees:
“American has proudly served Venezuela for almost 30 years (…) As safety is our top priority, we would not operate flights to any airport we believed did not meet the highest standards of safety and security. We are monitoring the situation in Venezuela closely and we remain in close contact with relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety of our team members and customers.”
Even though American Airlines remains vigilant, today the airline sent a Boeing 767-300(ER) in lieu of its customary 737-800 to aid stranded Avianca passengers and those US Embassy members that were ordered to flee the country yesterday.
Likewise, Delta Air Lines submitted a letter to the Venezuelan Aviation Authority announcing the termination of its Atlanta-Caracas service effective September 17, 2017. The reason for the cancellation is “poor performing economics and the instability of the market.”
As the situation in Venezuela develops, current international travel availability is completely sold out, raising the level of anxiety among the country’s citizens as the most crucial weekend in Venezuela’s recent history begins.