One of Latin America’s largest airlines, Avianca, is suspending all flights to and from Venezuela, further isolating the troubled South American nation.
In a press release Wednesday, Bogotá-based Avianca said its last flights will be on August 16. The carrier has routes to Caracas from Bogotá and Lima.
In a statement, the airline said it would reconsider the decision if Venezuela’s “airport infrastructure” was improved and “international standards” were met in Caracas.
“After 60 years of continuous service to Venezuela, we regret that we had to reach this difficult decision,” said Avianca Executive President Hernán Rincón. “But our obligation is to guarantee the safety of our operations.”
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Avianca is just the latest company to pull out of Venezuela. United Airlines quit flying to the country this month, and Air Canada and Lufthansa have also quit providing service. International carriers have long complained that the government’s strict currency controls have kept them from moving billions of dollars out of the country.
Avianca, which flies to 108 locations, including daily flights to and from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, didn’t mention money in its release.
“As a company we have the desire and the will to resume flights,” Rincón said, “once the conditions exist to do so.”
Venezuela has been caught in months of anti-government protests that have left more than 100 dead. The crisis has also led to a mass exodus of Venezuelans.
As the news spread, Venezuelans took to Twitter to both blast and praise the company’s decision.
“Sooner or later, Venezuela will resume being the decent country it has always been and we’ll see each other again,” one Twitter user wrote. “See you soon, Avianca!”
Follow me on Twitter @jimwyss