De Juniac: Venezuela risks losing all airline service

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De Juniac: Venezuela risks losing all airline service

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Nov 16, 2016

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De Juniac: Venezuela risks losing all airline service
Aaron Karp
Nov 15, 2016

Some $3.8 billion of airlines’ funds remain trapped in Venezuela, which risks losing all air service to the country, IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac warned.

In a Nov. 14 speech at the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) Airline Leaders Forum in Mexico City, de Juniac called Venezuela an “economic basket case” and pushed the country’s government to repatriate money to airlines at a fair exchange rate.

Venezuela is in the midst of a severe financial and political crisis, with President Nicolas Maduro struggling to retain power amid food and medicine shortages. Billions of dollars of airline funds have been effectively stuck in the country for several years, and after slight progress in repatriating the funds in the second half of 2014 after the total reached a high of $4.1 billion in July 2014, there has been no discernable movement, leading an increasing number of airlines to slash capacity to the country.

At a press conference at the ALTA forum following his speech, de Juniac conceded that the Venezuelan airline repatriation issue is part of “a complex problem” that goes well beyond the air transport industry.

“It is clear and true that airlines are trapped in a problem that is broader than a simple problem for airlines,” he said.

But there is one thing that could force the government, amid all its troubles, to face the airline issue, he said. “Connectivity,” de Juniac explained. “If this continues, it is likely that airlines will completely stop serving Venezuela. And if a country has no links to anywhere in the world, then it becomes a major political problem.”

He said IATA strongly urges “the Venezuelan authorities to find a system to repatriate the funds” to avoid a “disaster for the Venezuelan economy.”

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