Owed Billions By Venezuela, Airlines Cut Back On Flights There

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

American Airlines is one of the latest carriers to cut back on service. Due its dwindling dollar reserves, Venezuela is balking at paying airlines the hard currency they're owed for ticket sales.


Booking a flight to Venezuela has become nearly impossible. Many airlines have recently cut back on service to a country rich in oil but troubled economically. Tim Padgett of member station WLRN in Miami explains.

TIM PADGETT, BYLINE: Until this month, American Airlines offered 48 flights a week from the U.S. to Venezuela. It's now slashed that to 10 per week. All those flights will depart from just one city, Miami, - home to the U.S.'s largest Venezuelan community. A dozen other carriers, including Delta and Lufthansa also cut flights. The reason - Venezuela's government is running out of dollars. So it's balking at paying the airlines the hard currency it owes them for ticket sales. And it owes more than $4 billion.

JASON SINCLAIR: It's completely unprecedented.

PADGETT: Jason Sinclair is with the International Air Transport Association.

SINCLAIR: We've never seen a country that has held funds that belong to an airline. And, basically, what they try to do is negotiate with the airlines a lower amount of money to be paid over a number of years, which is something that, for the most part, the airlines rejected.

PADGETT: Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, insists that dealing with the country's economic crisis matters more than paying the airlines. But international flights are critical to business ties. Analysts like Sinclair warn that fewer flights may worsen the country's financial woes.

SINCLAIR: We're very concerned about what would happen to Venezuela if air connectivity was eroded further in the country.

PADGETT: Air Canada and Alitalia have ended flights to Venezuela, all together. For NPR News, I'm Tim Padgett.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from