There appears to be diplomatic spat between Panama and Venezuela after Panamanian government had placed 55 high ranking Venezuelans and 16 firms for a high risk list for money laundering that other Western governments has already done previously.
Venezuela obviously retaliated and one casualty was Copa’s 40 flights per week between Panama City and Caracas that were suspended for 90 days on Friday by the Venezuelan government. LAN and Avianca had already ended their Caracas flights due to inability to repatriate earnings from the country. Airlines are collectively owned billions.
Here’s an excerpt from The Latin American Herald (access their piece here):
Scenes of chaos at the Caracas counter of Panama’s Copa — one of Latin America’s best regarded airlines — were visible Friday morning, as the carrier was ordered to stop operating in Venezuela by the embattled administration of Nicolas Maduro, part of a wider tug-of-war between Panama and Venezuela.
Besides the diplomatic confrontation, Venezuelans – who have fled the country by the millions since the start of the Bolivarian “Revolution” in 1999 — complained Friday of being more isolated. And with good reason: while there were 23 airlines flying out of Venezuela in 2013, the year Maduro took over from his mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez, there were only 6 remaining as of Friday.
Most airlines have ended their service to Venezuela due to instability and inability to repatriate cash from the country. It is increasingly difficult for people trying to leave or visit the country due to lack of adequate airlift.
Copa has been the only major Latin American airline still flying to the country and providing connecting services. Now you are left with number of local airlines.