MIAMI – Copa Airlines (CM), Turpial Airlines (T9), and Laser Airlines (QL) have halted all flights between Panama/Dominican Republic and Venezuela following a Venezuelan airspace closure to Panamanian airlines on December 12.
One of the primary airlines allowing Venezuelans global connectivity, CM had reinstated routes amid the COVID-19 pandemic beginning flights from Panama City Tocumen International Airport (PTY) to Caracas Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS) in Venezuela on November 24.
Copa Airlines was even looking to expand service with flights to Maracaibo (MAR) and Valencia (VLN) but now Venezuelans can only travel internationally via Mexico, Turkey, and Iran.
In addition to Panama, flights from the Dominican Republic are also banned as per a Nicolas Maduro televised statement yesterday. According to Maduro, 57 out of the 481 cases recorded in the country since November 30 came from the island.
An International Dispute
The international dispute, according to the Panamanian government, resulted from a row over reciprocating flight frequencies between the two countries on an equitable basis. Three weekly CM flights were allowed into Venezuela while nine weekly flights to Panama were available for Venezuelan airlines.
On December 7, Venezuela asked Panama for an increase in the number of weekly flights into Panama for national carriers, and Panama, in turn, asked for more CM flights to Venezuela. Refusing, according to the Panamanian government, “Venezuela unilaterally canceled, without previous announcement or justification, the three weekly flights of the Panamanian carrier.”
Thus, Panama cancelled all rights for Venezuelan carriers, including T9 and QL, to operate Panama routes leading to a stalemate leaving Venezuelans with less international connectivity.
Featured image: McDonnell Douglas MD-81,_Laser_Airlines_JP7277166 Photo: By André Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters) https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29434384