BOGOTA, WILLEMSTAD – Avianca passengers face longer flight times to Europe and parts of the Caribbean as the Colombian carrier avoids Venezuelan airspace amid security fears.
Flights to London and Madrid will take an extra 10 minutes while steering clear of President Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela will add 42 minutes to flights to Curaçao, according to company estimates. The company suspended its Barbados flights, which would have taken more than an hour longer.
Relations between Colombia’s biggest airline and Venezuelan authorities soured after Avianca said yesterday it would halt all flights to the country, citing operational and security “limitations”. It subsequently rerouted flights away from Venezuelan airspace. Last year, the airline suspended its Caracas service after a Venezuelan fighter jet got close to one of its flights.
Venezuela has become increasingly cut off from the rest of the region as one airline after another has quit the Caribbean nation, which is engulfed in violent protests amid an economic crisis. American Airlines, Panama’s Copa, Air France, Iberia and Air Europa continue to fly to the country.