United Airlines has announced that the carrier will suspend all flights to Venezuela beginning next month amid economic chaos and social unrest in the country.
Other carriers have previously cut down on capacity of their flights to the poverty struck country, partly because they can not get the funds of their local ticket sales exchanged to US$ or any other international currency.
United is currently operating a daily service between Houston and Caracas which is apparently popular with some oil business employees, yet was unable to turn enough profit for the carrier.
Bloomberg (access here) wrote about the route cut and economic background.
United Airlines Inc. will suspend flights to Venezuela next month, a move that further cuts off access to the Latin American nation engulfed in violent political protests and economic chaos.
The daily service between Houston and Caracas will be canceled because of low demand, United spokesman Charles Hobart said in an email. “Because our Houston-Caracas service is not meeting our financial expectations we have decided to suspend it, effective July 1,” he said. …
United, whose flights to Caracas have been popular with oil executives in Texas and Venezuelans living in the U.S., is the latest in a string of airlines to pull out or cut exposure to socialist Venezuela. Only last month, TAP-Transportes Aereos Portugueses stopped selling plane tickets in Venezuela because it wasn’t getting the money from those sales.
Last year, carriers asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity so they could discuss ways to retrieve $3.8 billion held hostage by Venezuela’s economic collapse, with the government virtually halting repatriation of past ticket sales made in bolivars, the local currency. …
For the time being it appears there is too much overhead and risk involved to continue these flights to Venezuela, especially long haul carriers such as TAP and Lufthansa where a crew layover is required. If ticket sales in local Bolivar can’t be converted to international currencies then an airline is pretty much exchanging their tickets for worthless paper. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are required to pay their fuel in US$ while billions are ‘parked’ and unable to be used for much.
I wonder how much longer Venezuela can stay afloat under the current conditions. Even though the situation has been boiling for years it’s gotten worse and worse.
John wrote an article back in 2014 about the currency situation for foreigners in the country (see here) yet that might also have changed again in the meantime.