Avianca announced on Wednesday that it has suspended all flights to and from Venezuela from August 16th until further notice. Starting today, tickets sold for all routes to Venezuela are no longer available on the company’s web site.
The suspension comes as the economic and political crisis in Venezuela has worsened in recent days. 106 people have been killed since popular protests in the country began on April 1, and the country is currently paralyzed by a nationwide strike. Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez’ handpicked successor, has tightened his grip on the country, suspending democratic institutions and seizing businesses. On July 30, Maduro will hold a constituent assembly, aiming to change the country’s constitution and cement his own power.
In a statement, Avianca representatives said that the suspension was deemed necessary due to operational difficulties and inconsistency in operations of their current routes connecting Caracas, Venezuela, to Bogotá, Colombia, and Lima, Peru. The airline aims to improve its airport infrastructure, solve operational and safety issues, and to comply with international standards for air travel. The airline said that it would resume operations once these issues are resolved.
All passengers who bought tickets for a date later than the last day of operations will be changed to other airlines where possible, but are also eligible for reimbursement through the Avianca web site.
Hernán Rincón, Avianca’s CEO, said that he regretted the decision to suspend routes to Venezuela, but said that it was the airline’s responsibility to guarantee safety in their operations.