Written by Enrique Perrella and María Corina Roldán

MIAMI — Delta Air Lines (DL) submitted a letter to the Venezuelan National Institute of Civil Aviation (INAC) communicating their intention to suspend indefinitely their weekly Atlanta – Caracas service.

According to the letter, the last flight DL781 from Atlanta to Caracas will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The return and final farewell flight to Atlanta, DL802, will depart Caracas the following morning on September 17, 2017.

Delta has not published an official statement on the cancellation of the route.

Earlier today, Avianca also announced the suspension of its daily services to Venezuela. Both airlines claim that the current instability in the country and poor performing economics are the main drivers in such harsh decision.

Both Delta and Avianca will now join the ever growing list of carriers that have already ceased flying to Venezuela: Air Canada, Alitalia, Lufthansa, LATAM, GOL, Insel Air, Dynamic, Aeromexico, and United.

The last standing U.S.-based carrier flying to Venezuela, American Airlines (AA), has also taken drastic measures ahead of the dramatic political situation the South American country is going through.

Initially flying to Caracas from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW), New York (JFK), and Miami (MIA), AA decreased its connectivity to the Venezuelan capital to just two daily flights between Miami and Caracas.

Numerous frequent flyers based in Caracas commented on social media how this affects their connectivity to the United States, especially now that United is gone and AA remains with two daily flights.

“On my last flight to Caracas, I spoke to crew members and none of them wanted to be flying to Venezuela. They said it was too unsafe,” said Jose Rodriguez. “If American decides to leave, our chances to fly to the U.S. on reliable carriers are gone.”

According to a Venezuelan gate agent working for Delta (who preferred to remain anonymous), the news of the suspension was transmitted to them on Monday, July 24. “We are not sure what will happen to us now,” she said. “It’s not that we can swap airlines and begin a new career here. Everyone is leaving. We’ve been with Delta since day one; it really hurt us to see them going away.”

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 parked at the gate in CCS.
A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 parked at the gate in CCS.

The Delta-Venezuela relationship began to take a toll in 2014 when the airline decided to decrease their daily Atlanta-Caracas service to a once-a-week flight. Initially, the airline would deploy aircraft as big as Boeing 767-400s on the route, then decreasing to 757-200s and, ultimately, the smallest aircraft on their fleet, the Boeing 737-700, departing from Atlanta to Caracas on Saturdays and returning from Caracas to Atlanta on Sundays.

As of today, only ten international carriers remain flying to Venezuela: American Airlines, Copa Airlines, Air France, Iberia, Air Europa, Tame, TAP, Turkish Airlines, Cubana, and Latin American Wings.

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.

An official statement from Delta remains to be seen, but it’s expected to come out soon via the airline’s website.