In the wake of escalating civil unrest, Air France is temporarily halting flights to Caracas. Meanwhile, Air Europa has issued an advisory to crews on how to avoid kidnappings…
It is a historic day in Venezuela. The Maduro regime has stationed troops at the Colombian and Brazilian borders in order to block humanitarian aid from flowing in, which Maduro views as a “Trojan Horse” from the United States. Now the question is whether the Venezuelan military will remain loyal to Maduro or deflect, which could (and probably would) topple the incumbent government.
Airlines continue to find themselves caught in the middle of this escalating internal struggle. Venezuela, if it is not already there, approximates a failed state. Crime has soared and the streets of Caracas are decidedly not safe by all accounts and measures.
While many airlines have cut service, a handful remain. But as this weekend may truly mark the start of a new revolution, Air France is “temporialy” suspending service to Caracas.
Due to the situation in Venezuela, some flights have been cancelled for security reasons. Customers received an email stating Air France services to Caracas had been “temporarily cancelled”.
For now, only flights today, tomorrow, and Monday (23-25 Feb) will be canceled. The plan is resume service next week, but that will depend upon what transpires on the ground this weekend. In the interim, Air France is offering to fly passengers to Panama instead (from Panama City, COPA offers frequent service to Venezuela).
Air Europa Warns Crew
Meanwhile, Air Europa is not suspending service to Caracas, but has offered its crews some “helpful” advice on kidnapping.
Paddle Your Own Kanoo (sic) notes that crews have been given the following instructions (translated from Spanish):
- Do not leave after dark; avoid night hours
- Avoid disadvantaged areas of the capital
- Stay away from demonstrations or protests of any political sign
- Keep a low profile, avoid routines, and not divulge any information about our plans
- When traveling to the airport, stay together as a crew and keep your luggage with you
Air Europa has also advised crews what to do if they are kidnapped:
- It is important to have a person to whom the kidnappers can go
- Propose to warn staff of the interior council, in a camouflaged manner, as a friend or work partner
- Do not give information about our true economic capacity
- Leave open channels in the negotiation. Show alternatives: “I do not have that amount but I can talk with friends …”
- Each communication can help us
- Do not acquire unfeasible commitments
Wow, just wow. That is hardly comforting advice.
However it turns out, this will be a historical in Venezuela. I think (and hope) we all look forward to a day when crews need not worry about kidnapping or mugging on the streets of Caracas. I, for one, greatly look forward to visiting Venezuela in a post-Maduro era.
image: Air Europa