United Airlines ends flights to Venezuela, further isolating country
United Airlines will end its daily flight service to Venezuela in July, further isolating the crisis-hit South American country from international travel after the exit of many major airlines in recent years.
Many airlines, including Air Canada and Lufthansa, have left after a protracted dispute over billions of dollars as President Nicolas Maduro's administration has failed to reimburse companies in hard currency for ticket sales in local currency, as per strict currency controls in the socialist nation.
"In every market we serve, we continually review demand for service and because our Houston-Caracas service is not meeting our financial expectations we have decided to suspend it, effective July 1," United spokesman Charles Hobart said in an email to Reuters. United flies daily between both cities.
In addition to currency disputes and low occupancy on flights to Venezuela, airlines also fret about security for their crews on the ground.
The largest U.S. carrier in the country, American Airlines, slashed 80 percent of flights in 2014, and two years later, the company wrote off $592 million it said was stuck in Venezuela due to the government's failure to exchange it for hard currency. The International Air Transport Association said last year that $3.78 billion was owed to international airlines by Venezuelan authorities.