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IATA Shuts Down Venezuelan Offices, Situation Worsens

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IATA Shuts Down Venezuelan Offices, Situation Worsens

Juan José de Gouveia

IATA Shuts Down Venezuelan Offices, Situation Worsens
December 05
13:03 2017

MIAMI — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced through an internal letter that it has decided to leave Venezuela effective on January 31, 2018. According to the letter, all IATA operations carried out in Venezuela will be transferred to Panama, led by David Hernández, IATA’s Director for Central America.

“We’ve evaluated various factors, like the deteriorative weather around the business, [and] the complex social and economic situation in the country. Primarily, considering the fact there are just six operating IATA members’ [airlines] in the country, compared to the 24 that serve in 2014,” stated the Regional Vice President for IATA Americas, Peter Cerdá, on the letter.

According to the association, international traffic dropped a 65% from 2013 amidst many reasons they also considered to made the harsh decision; the difficult system to repatriate accrued funds in foreign currency, the exchange controls and a debt of $3.8 billion the government has with IATA.

READ MORE: IATA Seeks Antitrust Immunity to Address Blocked Funds in Venezuela

Back in 2014, IATA reported Venezuelan passenger traffic fell 8.5% even though the rest of Latin America had positive numbers. Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said those numbers were significant. Today, those numbers have dropped at an even larger scale.

The busy ramp at Caracas Airport during the late 2000s

He stated that “by contrast, other key Latin American economies saw passenger growth in the 2 to 12% range. An urgent change of policies is needed.”

READ MORE: IATA: Passenger Traffic in Venezuela Falls 8.5% While Rest of Region Grows

However, despite IATA’s numerous memos to the Venezuelan regime, there was no change of policies. Venezuela is currently facing one of the harshest periods of political and economic instability due to anti-democratic actions taken by the leftist government led by President Nicolas Maduro.

Trip into Isolation

Humberto Figuera, president of the Venezuelan Air Line Association (ALAV) tells Airways that the country is “on a trip into isolation, not only by incoming and outgoing international airlines but also by carriers flying through the Venezuelan airspace.”

Reportedly, the Venezuelan airspace is usually avoided by most carriers given the ludicrous fees the country charges for air traffic control. Only a few flights traveling from North America to Argentina and Chile fly through Venezuela. Others prefer to take alternate routes before engaging in commercial relationships with a regime that won’t allow normal operation to resume in the country.

“Other countries in the region, such as Colombia and Peru, are much cheaper to operate in and a lot safer than Venezuela,” adds Figuera. “It’s impossible to have a viable airline business when fees are so high and service is so poor.”

Flightradar24 – Copyright

The OAS, EU, The U.S. State Department, and Congress are just some of the international organizations that sanctioned Venezuelan politicians as pressure to stop the continuous deterioration socialism has brought to the so-called “Land of Grace.”

READ MORE: Travel Ban 2.0: North Korea, Chad, and now Venezuela

IATA and other international carriers tried to reach an agreement for the remaining debt the government has, but even though there were bilateral deals, the regime did not honor its part.

This made various airlines drop the route, as well as the lack of security, the deplorable conditions of the international airports and the despotic treat from the National Aviation Authority — INAC.

READ MORE: Avianca Airlines Suspends Venezuela Operations Amidst Threats

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.

Lufthansa withdrew their daily services to Caracas in June 2016. PHOTO: GUSTAVO RAMIREZ.

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

  • Avianca Airlines, daily flight from Bogotá on July 27, 2017.
  • Avianca Airlines, daily flight from Lima on July 27, 2017.
  • 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.
READ MORE: United Airlines Says “Goodbye” To Caracas, Venezuela

International airlines are not the only ones that are having trouble in Venezuela; domestic carriers have also experienced the sloth caused by the lousy administration.

Photo: Enrique Perrella

State-owned airline, Conviasa, used to operate its Caracas-Madrid route through a codeshare agreement with Wamos Air. The Spanish LCC unilaterally suspended the relationship for political reasons. Conviasa has also grounded at least 80% of its fleet because of lack of maintenance and crew training currency expirations.

READ MORE: Wamos Air Suspends Its Relationship With Conviasa Citing Political Reasons

To make matters worse, last week the EU Air Safety List included the domestic carrier, Avior Airlines, to its blacklist because of “unaddressed safety deficiencies.” And Aeropostal, the eldest Venezuelan airline, ceased operations in September, putting 88 years of history to an end.

Photo: Roberto Leiro

READ MORE: Venezuela’s Avior Airlines Blacklisted by European Union | Venezuela’s Aeropostal Ceases Operations

Venezuela was once the door to Latin America with the most significant innovations in aviation at the time. Now the country is filled with tragedy and has the worst rates ever seen.

Expect an Airways Special story on the Venezuelan situation soon.


About Author

Alvaro Sanchez

Alvaro Sanchez

Online Executive Editor. Journalist and Certified Radio Host. Studying for a Specialization in Public Opinion and Political Communications. Even though I love politics I've found myself fascinated by the Aviation World. I'm also passionate by economy, strategic communications, my family, my country, and dogs.

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