LONDON – American Airlines has confirmed that it has suspended all operations to and from Venezeula amid the political unrest that is ongoing in the country.
This came after the airline’s pilot union telling its members to refuse trips to the area after the State Department told American citizens to leave the country as soon as possible.
“Until further notice, if you are scheduled, assigned, or reassigned a pairing into Venezuela, refuse the assignment”, commented the Allied Pilots Association (APA).
The APA currently has around 15,000 pilots from American in the union.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents 25,000 flight attendants in the carrier has also supported the move from the APA and the airline.
On the political side, the State Department has also withdrawn its diplomatic employees from the country.
This makes American the final major American carrier to fly to Venezuela. Operations consist from Miami to the likes of Caracas and Maracaibo accordingly.
In a statement, the airline reitereated why it has chosen to withdraw from the country.
“The safety and security of our team members and customers is always number one and American will not operate to countries we don’t consider safe”.
The political situation under President Nicolas Maduro has worsened, with the economy gaining more negative outlooks by the day.
The Venezuelan leader cut ties with America back in January after President Donald Trump recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s new president.
Since then, 50 other countries have joined the American’s support for Guaido.
Such suspension of U.S-based services to Venezuela has been ongoing since 2017 with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines also cancelling services.
Such economic and political disruption has caused infrastructure to crumble across the main airports in the country.
For example, Maiquetia “Simon Bolivar” International Airport in Caracas has been struggling with these issues since the start of last year.
Terminals in the airport were lacking air conditioning and the sufficient facilities needed like water and electricity.
Pilot crews that operated into this airport were then sent to different cities due to the heavy levels of crime that are unfolding in the country as a result of the disruption.
Sanitation services at the airport have also ceased, so cleaning doesn’t take place as often anymore.
The numbers have shown the rapid decrease in the last 10 years.
In 2008, over eight million passengers flew through the airport, with 3.9 million being international.
In 2016, less than 650,000 international passengers were carried from the airport, which shows the decline as the situation worsened.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the political tensions now unfold. If Maduro is not removed, then we will start to see more international carriers pull out of the country.
This will ultimately make the economy in Venezuela more worse off than it already is, with some analysts suggesting it is at the worst that it can possibly get.