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.