MIAMI — Delta Air Lines will become the the second U.S. airline, after American, to drastically reduce service to Venezuela in light of an ongoing dispute between international carriers and the Venezuelan government over strict currency controls. The reductions take effect on August 1st.
The rules currently prevent airlines from repatriating earnings from tickets and cargo space sold in the country without government approval.
Delta currently serves Caracas daily from its Atlanta hub using a Boeing 737-800. Once the cuts begin, service will be reduced to weekly, departing from Atlanta to Caracas on Saturdays and returning from Caracas to Atlanta on Sundays.
A Delta spokesperson stated that the airline has provided uninterrupted service for 15 years; that it values it longstanding commercial relationship with the Venezuelan government; and that it is committed to serving the Venezuelan market.
Delta joins twelve other international airlines that have cut capacity, sales, or routes to Venezuela as a result of the country’s economic crisis, which has caused the revenue of international airlines to be reduced by the country’s inflation rate, currently the fastest in the world at almost 60 percent, and frequent devaluations of its currency, the bolivar. Air Canada and Alitalia are the only airlines to have suspended all their service to Venezuela so far.
In May, Venezuela reached agreements with Aeromexico, Aruba Airlines, Avianca, Insel Air, and TAME to repatriate debt from 2012 and 2013 in-country sales, which will be paid in installments through 2016. The Venezuelan government has threatened not to welcome back any carriers that suspend their services. Venezuela accumulated debt to foreign airlines is approximately $4 billion USD.
The cuts by American and Delta, leave United as the only U.S. airline not to have modified its service yet. United currently serves Houston to Caracas daily using a Boeing 737-700. Will they be next? Stay tuned.