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Lufthansa Joins Alitalia and Other Airlines in Frustrated Cuts to Venezuela Service

May 17, 2014 7:00 am

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Despite Venezuela’s benefits, airlines have had it up to here with Venezuela.

— Jason Clampet

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The tail wing of a Lufthansa airplane is seen as it approaches to land at Fraport airport in Frankfurt. Reuters

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-largest airline, has suspended ticket sales in Venezuela for commercial reasons, four days after calling the capital city of Caracas its most profitable Latin American route.

The suspension is temporary and flights for those who have tickets already will operate normally, Nils Haupt, a spokesman for the Cologne-based airline, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Lufthansa flies a Caracas-to-Frankfurt route five times a week, and the capital is its only destination within the nation.

Airlines are struggling to repatriate $3.9 billion in local earnings from Venezuela because of tightening currency controls, according to the International Air Transport Association. The group said at least 11 carriers have cut capacity on flights to South America’s largest oil exporter in the past year. The value of revenue trapped in bolivars is being whittled away by the highest inflation in the world and frequent devaluations of Venezuela’s currency.

Lufthansa’s sales director for North America, Donald Bunkenburg, called Caracas the company’s most profitable Latin American route because of the high proportion of business travelers, according to an interview published May 12 in Colombian newspaper Portafolio.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anatoly Kurmanaev in Caracas at akurmanaev1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net. 

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