Delta Air Lines is the latest airline to reduce its flights to Venezuela, cutting its daily service from Atlanta (US) to Caracas to a weekly service from 1 August.
Delta is reducing services following the Venezuelan government withholding $3.9 billion of airlines’ funds from the sales of airline tickets, contravening international treaties. In April, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the Venezuelan government to unblock the funds at the exchange rate they were generated, typically 6.3 Bolivars to the US dollar.
The Venezuelan government had made offers to release some of the funds, but at inferior exchange rates or with arbitrary discounts. Delta says: “Delta Air Lines has provided uninterrupted services to Venezuela for 15 years. We value our longstanding commercial relationship with the Venezuelan government and we are committed to serving the Venezuelan market.”
In March, Air Canada suspended its Toronto (Canada) to Caracas flights while Alitalia’s Rome to Caracas service was cancelled on 2 June. It is, however, to resume on 25 October. Venezuela’s situation was exacerbated by special taxes being levied on air transport to fund activities unrelated to the industry and raising airport charges by 70 per cent with no consultation or improvement of service.
According to IATA figures, 11 of the 24 foreign airlines operating in Venezuela have reduced operations by between 15 and 78 per cent in the past year, while one has stopped operating altogether. In April, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer, Tony Tyler said the situation was unacceptable.