DALLAS – Amid the reopening of flights between Venezuela and Colombia, and due to Conviasa’s (V0) inability to run the Caracas-Bogota route due to US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions, the Colombian aeronautical authority gave Turpial Airlines (T9) permission to operate the connection as of September 26.
As a result, T9 will be able to operate within the parameters of the fifth freedom of the air, as permitted last week following the diplomatic reconciliation between the two neighboring governments. The first of 27 flights scheduled through December 30.
Despite initial assurances that the Caracas-Bogota operations would be carried out by the Venezuelan flag carrier, Bogota-based services are unable to assist the V0 operation without risking facing penalties and fines due to the sanctions placed on the national airline by the OFAC.
The Colombian capital is one of Venezuela’s most popular international travel destinations, followed by Panama and Madrid. According to information sourced by aviacionline.com through Aerocivil Statistics, 160,237 passengers were transported in 2019 between Caracas’ Simón Bolívar International Airport (CCS) and El Dorado International Airport (BOG).
Three Boeing 737-400s make up T9’s fleet, and the city of Valencia’s Arturo Michelena International Airport (VLN) serves as both the airline’s operational and administrative hub.
The State of International Travel in Venezuela
According to Venezuelan aviation lore, Charles Lindbergh surveyed CCS’ location in 1929. 30 years later, Pan Am was routing its New York-Buenos Aires flights with a stop in Caracas.
Simón Bolívar International Airport became the aviation gateway to South America, and by the late 1970s, the country was so rich in oil wealth that “Concorde jets were swooping in to whisk shoppers off to Paris,” according to a 2016 Washington Post report on the downfall of Venezuelan aviation.
Data from Cirium shows that in 2017, the year T9 was certified, there were up to 237 international flights each week in the nation. American Airlines (AA), Air France (AF), Aerolíneas Argentinas (AR), Avianca (AV), Caribbean Airlines (BW), Cubana de Aviación (CU), Delta Air Lines (DL), Iberia (IB), TAP Air Portugal (TP) and Wingo (P5) all flew to Venezuela.
In 2019, AA axed its services from Miami International Airport (MIA) to CCS and Venezuela’s second-largest city and oil boomtown, Maracaibo (MAR).
As of June 2022, around 71 international flights per week are being operated by seven airlines out of Venezuela. These airlines include the international carriers Copa Airlines (CM), Turkish Airlines (TK), and Air Europa (UX) as well as the Venezuelan Avior Airlines (9V), Estelar (ES), Plus Ultra Líneas Aéreas (PU), and V0.
In the first half of 2022, at least 10 foreign airlines began to contact Venezuela’s National Institute of Civil Aviation (INAC) to explore a potential reintroduction of commercial services, according to an El Universal report.
Among the 10 airlines mentioned in the report, AF, IB, GOL (G3), and AR were interested in resuming commercial services to Venezuela.
Featured image: Turpial Airlines via Facebook