MIAMI — Tuesday, Panama’s government banned eight Venezuelan carriers for at least 90 days as a retaliation over the sanctions imposed on Copa Airlines last week by the aggressive Nicolas Maduro administration.
The latest twist in a dispute that started a month ago, will affect directly Aeropostal, Avior, Conviasa, Laser, Rutaca, Venezolana, Santa Bárbara, and Turpial Airlines from April 25 onwards. Of these, however, Aeropostal and Santa Barbara Airlines have gone out of business.
Starting April 25, all Venezuelan carriers with scheduled flights to Panama will not be allowed to depart.https://t.co/jKcxS2w65q
— Enrique Perrella (@Enrique77W) April 11, 2018
On March 29, the Panamanian Government stated that Maduro, along with 55 individuals and 16 Venezuelan companies, are considered a “high risk” for laundering money, terrorism financing, and trafficking weapons of mass destruction.
In return, the Venezuelan regime issued unilateral sanctions against Panama’s Flag Carrier, Copa Airlines, claiming that several top-ranking authorities from Panama, including its President, Juan Carlos Varela, had been involved in money laundering.
As a consequence, commercial ties with various companies and Panamanian officials were halted by the Venezuelan executive. Following Venezuela’s measures, Panama decided to recall its ambassador and asked the Venezuelan ambassador in Panama City to leave the country. This could be considered as a complete halt in political relations between both nations.
The suspension of Copa’s flights into Venezuela represents a drop of over 85% in seat availability into the ill-fated country. Copa Airlines was one of the last international carriers to continue operating, uninterruptedly, into the hostile nation, which has seen a major outflux of airlines that decided to ax all their services into Venezuela.
In 2013, the international carriers serving Venezuela offered 57,105 weekly seats. Five years later, the offer is just of 10,320 seats per week.
— Roberto Leiro (@rleiro) April 6, 2018
According to numerous sources, Venezuelan carriers will be banned from entering Panamian airspace starting April 25. However, there hasn’t been any announcements from the Venezuelan government or airlines.