Strange Times, Indeed
In a surprise – perhaps even shocking – announcement, Venezuela’s Maduro announced Turkish Airlines is looking to open an operating base in Caracas, Venezuela (CCS).
According to Airways Magazine, Maduro stated the following during his state visit to Ankara, Turkey:
We are moving forward with Turkish Airlines opening a base in Venezuela for all their Latin American and Caribbean operations, which makes us feel very optimistic.
Turkish Airlines Serves Caracas (CCS) via Havana (HAV)
Turkish Airlines currently flies to Caracas (CCS) via a stop in Havana, Cuba (HAV). The carrier inaugurated the three-weekly route with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which has since been downgauged to an Airbus A330-200. The route operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Venezuela’s tourism industry and business community aren’t exactly thriving under the country’s staggering 40,000% inflation rate. An estimated 90%+ of Venezuelans live in poverty with a recent survey suggesting the average Venezuelan has lost 25 pounds.
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) July 2, 2018
Strengthing Relations Between Turkey and Venezuela
The surprise announcement comes as Maduro visits Turkey to strengthen relations between the two nations. As U.S. and EU sanctions cripple Venezuela’s economy, Maduro is looking to new allies to build support for his cryptocurrency, the Petro.
Venezuela and Turkey join the multi-polar world with the proposal of new mechanisms of mutual integration and cooperation as the Petro, in order to advance the economic prosperity and the happiness of our Peoples. pic.twitter.com/Cbmg0X1nl5
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) July 11, 2018
A Market Void in Caracas (CCS)
The once-thriving Simón Bolívar International Airport (CCS) is served by just a handful of reputable airlines. American Airlines is the only remaining U.S. airline to serve CCS from its hub in Miami (MIA). The carrier operates two daily flights:
Given the relatively short flight length, American crews do not layover in Caracas. Before United Airlines dropped its Caracas flight in June 2017, the carrier added a stop in Aruba (AUA) for a crew change to avoid having to layover in Caracas. Delta Air Lines also terminated its Caracas (CCS) service from Atlanta (ATL) in 2017.
Other notable carriers ending service to Caracas (CCS) include:
- Aerolíneas Argentinas
- Air Canada
- Air Canada
Despite the Challenges, (Some) Euro Carriers Remain
Similar to United, both Iberia and TAP Portugal previously added tech stops to avoid crews having to layover in Caracas. TAP Portugal’s flight to Lisbon (LIS) is now operated nonstop by a wet-leased EuroAtlantic Airways Boeing 767-300 aircraft on select days.
Air Europa and Iberia fly to Madrid (MAD) and Air France flies to Paris (CDG).