Blaming COVID-19, Air France will suspend flights to Caracas, Venezuela for up to two years. But it wants to return…at least that is the official line.
Air France Will “Suspend” Service To Venezuela
Air France was one of the last international carriers to maintain service to Caracas. In fact, Air France has served Caracas continuously for 68 years, including Concorde service from Paris in the 1970s heyday, which cut the journey time to six hours.
But Air France is not immune to the corruption and currency control issues that have driven other carriers out. Going back to 2003, airlines have faced strict currency control issues that have kept millions of dollars (now thousands of dollars thanks to hyperinflation) trapped in Venezuela. Venezuelan media reported earlier this week that Air France would pull out of Caracas for at least two years, citing lack of profitability.
But embattled President Nicolás Maduro has made clear in the the past that when an airline leaves, it will not come back.
In order to avoid a similar persona non grata status, an Air France delegation met with government officials this weeks to stress that Air France will be suspending service, not ending it, and that it hopes to return.
Juan Teixeira, President of the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics in Venezuela, officially confirmed the news via Twitter, stating:
“Air France expressed its firm intentions to continue carrying out operations in our country, which have been carried out uninterruptedly for 68 years, once they manage to solve their situation caused by this serious pandemic.”
#24Sep || 3/3 Sin embargo, @airfrance manifestó sus intenciones firmes de continuar realizando operaciones en nuestro país, las cuales se efectuaban ininterrumpidamente desde hace 68 años, una vez logren solventar su situación ocasionada por esta grave pandemia. pic.twitter.com/9bqPfXAk8Y
— MG. Juan Teixeira Díaz (@JuanTeixeiraD) September 25, 2020
No dates were announced for when Air France would return. The pandemic was blamed for the suspension.
With the departure of Air France, the number of international carriers at CCS drops to eight:
- Air Europa
- Caribbean Airlines
- Plus Ultra
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
Air France has reportedly struggled to profit for years on its Caracas route. Now the carrier is suspending service to the Venezuelan capital and won’t say for how long. I have to wonder whether this is Air France simply trying to be polite, because I see the viability of resuming this route quite slim.
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image: Anna Zvereva / Wikimedia Commons