MIAMI — Flights between Panama and Venezuela will resume today, April 20, following a two-day halt after both countries dismissed their counterpart’s ambassadors and cut diplomatic relations.
“I talked with the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Valera,” said Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro. “We reached an agreement; the return of our ambassadors, air connectivity from tomorrow [Friday] and the creation of a commission chaired by both foreign ministers in 30 days to solve the problems.”
He affirmed the negotiations were made to “have the best bilateral relations.”
We are working towards resuming operations to and from Venezuela as soon as possible. Additional details to come.
— Copa Airlines (@CopaAirlines) April 27, 2018
Venezuela: Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing
On March 29, the Panamanian Government stated that Maduro, along with 55 individuals and 16 Venezuelan companies, are considered a “high risk” for money laundering, terrorist 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, had been involved in money laundering.
As a consequence, commercial ties with various companies and Panamanian officials were halted by the Venezuelan executive.
Following unilateral Venezuela’s measures, Panama decided to recall its ambassador and asked the Venezuelan ambassador in Panama City to leave the country.
Copa: An Important International Player in Venezuela
The suspension of Copa’s flights into Venezuela represented 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.
Following the suspension of all Copa flights into Venezuela, Panama responded by banning eight Venezuelan carriers for at least 90 days.
The ban affected directly Aeropostal, Avior, Conviasa, Laser, Rutaca, Venezolana, Santa Bárbara, and Turpial Airlines from April 25. Of these, however, Aeropostal and Santa Barbara Airlines have gone out of business.
Overall, direct connectivity between both countries was halted for only two days. Laser Airlines operated its last Caracas-Panama round trip on April 25—two days before Maduro announced his retraction.
With both Copa and Laser re-opening its daily flights between Panama and Venezuela, a breath of fresh air invades the crippled country, which day by day, sees international air connectivity fade away.