TEXAS, United States, Saturday June 10, 2017 – United Airlines will become the latest in a string of carriers to suspend flights to Venezuela next month in a move that will further limit access to the country embroiled in increasingly violent protests and economic free fall.
United spokesman Charles Hobart cited low demand for the cancellation of the daily service between Houston and Caracas.
“Because our Houston-Caracas service is not meeting our financial expectations we have decided to suspend it, effective July 1,” he told Bloomberg.
Growing numbers of opposition supporters, who accuse the government of mismanagement and are calling for early elections, have staged near-daily street protests since the end of March.
United, whose flights to Caracas were once popular with Texan oil executives and US-based Venezuelans, is the most recent in a series of airlines to pull out or reduce flights to Venezuela.
In May, TAP – Transportes Aereos Portugueses – stopped selling plane tickets in Venezuela because it wasn’t receiving the money from those sales.
Last year, carriers asked the US Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity so they could discuss ways to retrieve a whopping US$3.8 billion tied up by Venezuela’s economic collapse, with the government virtually halting repatriation of past ticket sales made in bolivars, the local currency.
American Airlines, which had been the largest carrier by capacity to Venezuela, took a $592 million special charge in 2015 to write down the value of its ticket sales in bolivars.
Delta has also written down the value of past Venezuelan sales in bolivars and has reduced flights drastically since 2014.
Last year, Deutsche Lufthansa AG dropped its flights from Frankfurt; Chile-based Latam Airlines Group SA also suspended its Caracas service from Brazil, Chile, and Peru; and Grupo Aeromexico SAB ended flights between Venezuela and Mexico City.
Air Canada halted flights to Caracas back in March 2014, citing the civil unrest.
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