MIAMI – Avianca Airlines has suspended all flights to Venezuela effective immediately. Even though the carrier initially announced that they will cease service on August 16, the carrier reconsidered the decision due to “some operational limitations.”

According to internal sources (who have asked to remain anonymous), after the news of the suspension was released, Avianca flight crews allegedly received threats of great retaliation from the Venezuelan National Institute of Civil Aviation (INAC) if they suspended their operations; as a result, Avianca decided to cease immediately their services.

“We suspend Venezuela operations from today. We believe firmly in maintaining the security of our passengers”.

Both Avianca’s Bogota-Caracas and Lima-Caracas routes are suspended. The airline also suspended yesterday all tickets sales to and from Venezuela.

Although unconfirmed, it appears that all Avianca flights are avoiding Venezuela airspace at this time. It is unclear if this is a precaution made by Avianca or if it is a direct order from Venezuelan authorities.

In case that it is a direct order from Venezuelan authorities, the Colombian authorities will take retaliation affecting Venezuelan airlines that operates Colombian routes (Avior and Conviasa) and Panamá routes (Avior, Conviasa, Laser, Aeropostal and SBA Airlines).

In Wednesday press release, the carrier said the decision was taken Tuesday night in a meeting with the Colombian Aviation Authorities in Bogota, due to the great struggle the airline is currently dealing with to maintain service to Venezuela.

Even though the Venezuelan Vice Minister of Transportation, Jorge Montenegro, flew to Bogotá on Tuesday trying to avoid this situation, Avianca Airlines firmly made the decision.

“After 60 years of service in Venezuela, Avianca regrets this difficult decision, but our duty is to warranty the security of the operations,” said Hernán Rincón, President of Avianca Airlines. “As a company, we have the disposition and will to return operations, once we have the required conditions.” Avianca is asking for better airport infrastructure and consistency in operations.

In 2014 the airline also suspended two routes to Venezuela — between San José and Caracas, and Bogotá and Valencia.

Delta Air Lines also suspended their operations in Venezuela and announced the retirement of the crew by September.  Several international carriers like Air Canada, Alitalia, Lufthansa, LATAM, GOL, Insel Air, and United Airlines have already ceased flights to Venezuela.

Others, like American Airlines, decreased their operations to assure a minimal connectivity and decrease exposure due to potential risks the country is currently facing; one of the harshest periods of political and economic instability due to anti-democratic actions taken by the Venezuelan Government.

Also, Aerolineas Argentinas has taken extra measures to keep their crew safe during their layovers in the Venezuelan capital. Even the Venezuelan flag carrier, Conviasa has been facing troubles to operate.

Chronologically, these are some of the airlines that have opted to suspend flights to Venezuela:

  • United Airlines, daily flight from Houston on June 30, 2017.
  • Dynamic Airways, daily flight from Fort Lauderdale on August 13, 2016.
  • LATAM, a weekly flight from Lima, twice weekly flight from Santiago on August 1, 2016.
  • Aeromexico, thrice weekly flights from Mexico City on June 23, 2016.
  • Lufthansa, thrice weekly flights from Frankfurt on June 17, 2016.
  • LATAM, a weekly flight from Sao Paulo on May 28, 2016.
  • Alitalia, a weekly flight from Rome on April 3, 2015.
  • Air Canada, four weekly flights from Toronto on March 18, 2014.