Dozens of passengers were stranded at Miami International Airport Thursday after the U.S. issued an order Wednesday to suspend flights to Venezuela. The travelers had been scheduled to fly Thursday on the airline Avior.
Among them was Carmen Victoria Suárez, who arrived at MIA at 3 a.m. for a Barcelona-Caracas-Margarita flight scheduled to depart at 8 a.m. She learned about the cancellation on the flight screen of the airport terminal.
“I’m trying to go to my country where I have my 16-year-old son, my husband, my parents, and nobody can give me a solution,” said Suárez, a Venezuelan. She paid $413 for her ticket last Saturday, before the policy was announced. “It’s enough to make me cry.”
Avior Airlines and Laser Airlines, which also flies to Venezuela, informed their passengers of the suspension of the flights through a statement shared on social media.
Laser Airlines reported that its flights between Miami and Venezuela would have a stopover in the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Wednesday issued an immediate halt to passenger and cargo flights between the U.S. and Venezuela, citing risks to passenger safety and civil unrest caused by Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis. The U.S. and dozens of other nations recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s interim president.
Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro questioned the halting of flights and accused the U.S. of “attacking freedom of movement” in a speech broadcast on radio and television.
The president of the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce in Miami (VACC), Mauricio Tancredi, described the action as a “very serious” measure that will adversely affect businesspeople and consumers.
“There are many companies that send goods by plane. They buy their supplies in the United States to send them to Venezuela. But this measure affects us all, citizens and businessmen,” he told el Nuevo Herald. “It affects the consumer in general.”
Elisaúl Herrera, president of Doral-based parcel company Vikom Export, agreed that the move is bad for business. Cargo will now have to be routed through third countries.
“That means more logistics, time and cost. Our cargo usually arrived by plane in about two days and now it will take a week,” he said. “That means more working hours and therefore a higher cost. The likely result will be an increased cost of often-scarce goods — already boosted by recent taxes imposed by the Maduro government on goods passing through the airports and sea ports.
Herrera warned that he might have to increase his prices by “at least 40 percent” in a worst-case scenario.