Department of Transportation Orders Suspension of Flights Between the US and Venezuela

WASHINGTON—The Department of Transportation ordered the suspension of all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Venezuela, on Wednesday, May 15, citing reports of unrest and violence around airports in the South American country.

In a letter to the Transportation Department requesting the halt, the Department of Homeland Security said: “conditions in Venezuela threaten the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and crew traveling to or from that country.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal hangs on a fence at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, on Dec. 11, 2014. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many international airlines had stopped flying to Venezuela anyway because of security concerns and disputes over money they say the government owes them.

Anti-government protesters clash with security forces in Caracas during the commemoration of May Day on May 1, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

American Airlines Group Inc, previously the largest carrier providing service between the United States and Venezuela, in March said it was indefinitely suspending its flights to Venezuela.

In April, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. air operators from flying below 26,000 feet in Venezuela’s airspace.

The administration of President Donald Trump expanded the scope of its Venezuela sanctions last week to the defense and security services sectors to try to crank up economic pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

President Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview with The Associated Press in the Oval Office of the White House, on Oct. 16, 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

The moves are part of a four-month-old campaign against Maduro as the United States ramps up its support for opposition leader Juan Guaido.

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Author: Reuters