The Colombian and Venezuelan governments, led by Gustavo Petro and Nicolás Maduro respectively, have announced the reopening of their borders, allowing air transport connectivity to resume after a three-year hiatus due to a diplomatic fallout. Avianca, LATAM, Ultra, Wingo and Avior, which had several routes between the two countries before the pandemic, are ready to restart their commercial passenger services as soon as they are given the green light.
Open the borders again
It took about three years for the borders between Colombia and Venezuela to be fully reopened. On Friday, the Venezuelan government announced the authorization of flights between the two countries and the reopening of the air corridor between El Dorado International Airport (BOG) in Bogota and Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas (CCS) by the end of this month.
Armando Benedetti, Colombia’s ambassador to Venezuela, said five airlines are considering resuming service between Bogota and Caracas from September 26. These carriers are Avianca, LATAM, Ultra, Wingo and Avior. He added that the Venezuelan carrier Laser Airlines is still in the process of being approved to operate this route. Wingo, a subsidiary of Copa Holdings, has also been authorized to operate a service between Bogota and Valencia.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries went sour when former Colombian President Iván Duque recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s alternative president instead of Nicolás Maduro. Following the incident, Maduro expelled all Colombian diplomatic personnel and closed the borders between the two countries.
Flights between Colombia and Venezuela will resume in September. Photo: Getty Images.
International connectivity to Venezuela
In recent years, Venezuela has lost international air connectivity. For example, the country had around 348 international flights and 51,328 seats available in September 2015 compared to 106 weekly flights and 17,288 seats in September 2022, using data from Cirium.
Venezuela currently has international services from 12 airlines; Copa Airlines operates the most services, with 33 flights per week from Tocumen International Airport (PTY). The other operators are Conviasa, Laser, Avior, Turpial, Turkish Airlines, Air Europa and TAP Portugal. Seven years ago, the country was connected to other airlines such as American Airlines, Air France, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Delta, GOL, Iberia, LATAM and Avianca. Some of these operators want to resume their services to the South American country.
The Venezuelan government currently allows international flights from 15 countries around the world. This list includes Turkey, Russia, Mexico, Bolivia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Iran, Brazil, Algeria , Qatar and Colombia.
Several airlines have expressed interest in resuming commercial flights to Venezuela. Photo: Getty Images.
Avianca, Wingo and LATAM ready to go
In recent months, Avianca and LATAM have declared their interest in resuming commercial services between Colombia and Venezuela. As reported by local media Aviacionline, the Avianca team “is ready to reconnect these two brotherly countries”. The airline is currently waiting for the Venezuelan authorities to authorize its technical team to visit the country and start selling the flight. It is expected that Avianca will be able to resume routes to Venezuela within the next two to three months.
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Source: El País, Aviacionline.