American Airlines Suspends Flights to Venezuela Amid Unrest

Mar 15, 2019

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American Airlines suspended its flights to and from Venezuela Friday as unrest continues to roil the nation.

AA had operated twice-daily flights from Miami to the capital city Caracas and once-daily flights from Miami to Maracaibo.

The airline was the last major US carrier to operate flights to the South American country, which has seen an increase in violence due to political turbulence after Juan Guaido, leader of an opposing political faction, declared himself president of Venezuela.

The nation’s sitting president, Nicolas Maduro, cut diplomatic ties with the US and other countries who recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s new leader. Earlier this week, the US State Department warned US citizens not to travel to Venezuela, giving the country a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” ranking, its highest level warning, due to “crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.”

US diplomats left the nation on Thursday, the State Department said. Following these developments, American’s pilots’ union released a statement early on Friday instructing its members not to fly into Venezuela.

“Do not accept any trips to Venezuela,” wrote Captain Dan Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association, according to Reuters, which viewed a copy of the memo.

Shortly after the union’s statement, the airline suspended its flights due to “safety and security.”

“American has temporarily suspended our operation into Caracas and Maracaibo,” the airline said in a statement to TPG. “Our Corporate Security team has a collaborative partnership with union leaders and we will continue to do so to evaluate the situation in Venezuela. The safety and security of our team members and customers is always number one and American will not operate to countries we don’t consider safe.”

Both United and Delta ceased their flights to Venezuela in 2017.

Featured photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images.

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