Tensions are rising in a diplomatic spat between Venezuela and Panama. After the Panamanian government listed Venezuelan “President” Nicolas Maduro and 50 other Venezuelans on a “high risk” money laundering watch list Maduro revoked the rights for Copa Airlines to operate into Venezuela. The move took effect immediately; Copa’s last flight into Venezuela operated on Thursday afternoon.
The suspension is temporary, at least in theory. But it is also bad news for a country suffering a humanitarian crisis and where international aviation remains one of the few means for relief supplies to reliably arrive. Of the roughly 100 commercial passenger flights arriving in Caracas over the past week 21 were Copa-operated. Until this incident Copa was the most frequent foreign carrier operating into the Venezuelan capital. It continued to do so in the face of economic and security challenges. Losing those flights is horrible news for relief agencies caring for the Venezuelan people.
And so, while the two countries bicker over the diplomatic issues, the flights are grounded.
American Airlines did just announce an expected increase in service to Caracas as part of a Latin America coverage shift but was light on details on what that meant specifically to Caracas.
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Kicking out a carrier out of your country-one that many have pulled out of and don’t fly into…I know how my week will be now. Yay.
Isn’t worth it for other airlines to try and get some of the biz to Caracas? I saw that AA is increasing frequency, but it may be a while before they will see any of that money. Are they playing the long game here? What about other carriers? I find this situation absolutely fascinating…
I agree with Michael’s short answer. Venezuela essentially stole $4bn in revenue from the airlines. They aren’t letting any cash out these days. And all local handling/fuel costs are paid in cash at a phony exchange rate. It is just not smart for any airline to be seeing that as a profit center right now.
That will eventually change when Maduro is gone and the country starts the long path to recovery, but for now it is a mess. Just awful.
Seth’s more complete answer articulates my thinking.
Blake Fisher Maybe the humanitarian game? Getting people the hell out!
The people who need to evacuate can not afford to do so. And a couple hundred a day won’t solve the problems.
Seth Miller Why is AA adding capacity? Do you think they should cut bait?
Blake: I’m surprised that the increase is coming. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me from over here in the cheap seats. But we also don’t really know what it is yet best I can tell. And it was for far enough away that it could shift and no one would blame AA.
Seth Miller relatives from the US could be buying the tickets.
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