Amid growing civil unrest and social fissures so deep it may take a revolution to restore order, four more airlines are suspending service to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
On Sunday, a sham election will take place in which President Nicolás Maduro will further try to consolidate power through the creation of a constituent assembly. This assembly will have the power to dismantle or rework the country’s constitution and any branch of the government seen as disloyal to the dictatorial president.
Venezuelans do not have the option of voting no – only choosing assembly delegates, all of whom will be loyal to Maduro. The USA, which buys half of Venezuela’s oil, has already announced sanctions.
The situation will only get uglier.
Delta will end service to Venezuela on September 01, 2017. Avianca will end service from Lima and Caracas on August 15, 2017. Avianca issued the following statement–
This measure is based on the need to adapt several processes to international standards, improve airport infrastructure in Venezuela and ensure consistency in operations. Nevertheless, Avianca will examine this decision, once it knows the results of the technical work that will be carried out by the Authorities of both countries to solve these operational and security impediments.
Now Air France and Iberia will temporarily suspend service to Venezuela in anticipation of violence over Sunday’s election. Both carriers intend to resume service in August, with Iberia resuming service on August 2nd and Air France on August 5th.
The Money Problem
This is more than just a problem of crew safety and airport infrastructure. Venezuela has strict capital controls that have prevented carriers from repatriating money from ticket sales within Venezuela. As the country’s currency continues to sink into worthlessness, the carriers not only cannot take money out but even if they could it loses value each day.
I say this as an outsider, an American, but someone who is deeply empathetic for the Venezuelan people. I trust that the present administration will be disposed of in one way or another and a new generation of leadership will help to usher in peach and prosperity. Until then, look for more airlines to cut or suspend service.
image: Mathieu Marquer / Wikimedia Commons