Venezuela’s domestic airline industry in crisis

Global Business

The main airport in Caracas has plenty of aircraft. But almost all are grounded.

Barely twenty planes out of Venezuela’s domestic fleet of around a hundred are currently in operation, and the rest are awaiting maintenance. Venezuela’s currency control has played a big role in this problem.

CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs reports.

The government insists that all airline tickets are sold in Venezuela’s local currency, the bolivar.

However, its currency value has crashed due to inflation that has reached 40,000 percent and growing.

The airlines, in the meanwhile, need to buy their spare parts in U.S. dollars and there are not enough of those circulating.

Meanwhile, the government regulates the price of airline tickets.

The most ironic thing is that the taxi fare to the airport costs two to three times more than a domestic flight.

Venezuela’s airline association says the policy makes no sense.

“It is a fact that every time a domestic airline flies one of its local routes it is losing money. That is why there are few routes and bad connectivity in Venezuela. Because the more flights a company operate in Venezuela, the more money it loses,” Humberto Figuera, head of the Venezuelan Airline Association, said.

It has become nearly impossible to fly around Venezuela, whether for business or leisure, and even the government-run travel agents say they have no tickets.

Venezuelans used to be famously well-travelled. In the current situation, everyone is forced to adapt.

Carlos Cusati is one of the few people still trying to run a travel business in this difficult environment. He said it takes him three to five days to track down an available domestic flight.

He said that in the month of June, his business fell by hit almost by 65 percent because of how difficult it is to get a seat on a flight.