American Airlines is the sole remaining US carrier serving Venezuela. Panama’s Copa has the most flights, and Air France has Paris service six times weekly. Caribbean Airlines flies an ATR72 three times a way. Aruba Airlines has daily service to Maracaibo. Cubana flies twice weekly to Caracas.
As the country has fallen apart, with mass shortages, rampant crime, and inflation over 5000%, American Airlines had found their Venezuela routes extremely profitable — because there was so little air service left.
Thanks to price controls on domestic flights, passengers waited at airports for days hoping to get on a flight. The National Guard pulls suitcases off of flights to loot them. Airlines complain they’re getting contaminated fuel.
With flight crews getting robbed by bandits airlines fly crews out of the country to overnight, and try to refuel elsewhere as well.
Events in Venezuela are coming to a head, and so far American, Copa, and Air France continue to show their flights operating — although US diplomats have been given 72 hours to leave Venezuela as Nicolas Maduro struggles to hang onto power, severing relations with the United States.
Maduro’s re-election has been declared illegitimate by the National Assembly, so he’s taken his swearing in at the nation’s Supreme Court instead. Following the law though the country’s opposition leader (and head of the Congress) is officially – and has declared himself – interim President pending new elections.
Over a dozen nations have recognized this new government, including Argentina; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Honduras; Guatemala; Paraguay; Panama; and Peru in Latin America along with Canada, France, and the United States (while Cuba expressed support for the existing regime).
Ultimately the fate of Venezuela – which has been largely in decline for 20 years since socialist Huge Chavez was first elected President there – will depend on whether Maduro can continue to control the nation’s military to crush popular uprising as they did in 2017. So far the head of the military is still backing Maduro.
VIDEO: Anti-government protesters in Caracas commandeer a truck as hundreds look on and cheer, on a day when the US, Canada and several major South American nations recognized the head of the country's opposition-controlled legislature as the interim leader pic.twitter.com/qLXNHjYerD
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 23, 2019
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) January 23, 2019
Maduro says the opposition is attempting to stage a coup, though strictly speaking since the Assembly declared his re-election invalid he’s the one seeking to overturn the process and use the military to do it.
Though Venezuela’s law and the rest of Latin America is on one side, and Maduro only has the military as backing to crush popular uprising, some in the United States appear to be inserting themselves where they don’t belong — itching for an unnecessary fight, and feeding the narrative that the U.S. is somehow behind this.
And trust me on this one, if Maduro is stupid enough to test @realdonaldtrump by harming any U.S. diplomat, the consequences would be swift & severe.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 23, 2019
Hopefully the situation resolves peacefully, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people, and over time more airlines are even able to come back to again service the country.