BOGOTA – Colombian flagship airline Avianca said it would stop flying to and from Venezuela as of Thursday due to the complicated situation in the neighboring country.
The initial plan was to suspend those flights starting in mid-August.
“Due to operational and security limitations in recent hours, Avianca has been forced to suspend its operations from Thursday, and not from Aug. 16 as previously scheduled,” the airline said in a statement.
Avianca had announced Wednesday that due to operational difficulties it would suspend flights between Bogota and Caracas and between Lima and the Venezuelan capital from mid-August, bringing an end to more than 60 years of operations in that country.
But the worsening of the crisis in Venezuela, an oil-rich but bitterly divided country that is in a deep economic recession and has been roiled recently by violent anti-government protests, forced it to move up the date.
“This includes a halt to ticket sales for routes connecting Caracas with Bogota and Lima,” the statement added.
It cited the need for Venezuelan authorities to align various processes with international standards, improve airport infrastructure and guarantee the consistency of operations.
Other airlines, including Aeromexico, Lufthansa and United Airlines, had already suspended operations.
The move by Avianca further affects Venezuela’s air connectivity because that carrier has a 59 percent share of the Bogota-Caracas-Bogota route and a 77 percent share of the Lima-Caracas-Lima route.
Travelers with reservations who cannot be booked on flights operated by other airlines will be fully reimbursed, Avianca said.