The announcement yesterday by American Airlines to reduce the number of flights servicing Venezuela by 80% comes with a startling asterisk: 60% of international airlines flying to and from Venezuela have not cut down on the number of flights to the country. So says that Asociacion de Lineas Aereas de Venezuela [Association of Venezuelan Airlines] in a report released today.
According to the report, “out of the 25 foreign airlines which service the country, 15 have reduced operations, with only the Brazilian airline Gol increasing its seating [capacity] by 58%“.
The below is a list of airlines with reduced service to the country, with the the reduction shown as a percentage:
- Lufthansa (40%)
- Iberia (31%)
- LAN Peru (63%)
- Tiara Air (85%)
- TAM (48%)
- United Airlines (32%)
- Delta (6%)
The drastic reduction in air service is having a dire effect on the Venezuelan travel industry. The vice-president of the Asociacion Venezolana de Agencias de Viaje y Turismo [Venezuelan Association of Travel Agencies and Tourism], Sandra Gonzales, warned that the industry finds itself:
… nearing the limit, and measures will have to be taken (…) No one can support an industry without income.
According to Gonzales, “we’ve practically not sold [any airplane] tickets” in the past two weeks.
Supreme Court Rules Against Newspapers
Back in February, lawyers for Venezuela’s newspaper industry filed a motion before the Supreme Court asking the judges to force the government to hand over dollars it had already promised the industry so that it might be able to buy paper to print on. The lawyers argued that the government shuffling its feet on the hand-over – forcing newspapers to drastically reduce the number of pages they can print on – was tantamount to an assault on the freedom of expression and the right to information and work.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s currency exchange policies do not:
… undermine or threaten to undermine [freedom of expression] (…) The motion for amparo [literally, “protection” from an abuse against a particular right(s)] does not have as its goal the prevention of hypothetical situations which, possibly, could come about as a consequence of actions or omissions attributed to branches of public institutions, (which is not verified in the present case), since its specific character can only work in cases in which an express violation or threat to harm, direct or immediate, of any right or constitutional guarantee materializes.
In other words, the Supreme Court has said that the newspaper industry – or any other entity – cannot ask for amparo from the court if it feels itself wronged by the effects of government policy. Instead, the kind of protection the court is able to offer can only be given if a legal/constitutional right is being threatened in a specific way by a specific action/inaction.
For example: I cannot ask for amparo if money CADIVI approved for my business 9 months ago is still nowhere to be found. I can ask for amparo if CADIVI is purposely withholding that money because I’m a woman.
The lawyers argued that it was very much the case that the government was withholding the money precisely to bring harm to the newspaper industry, but the Supreme Court did not share that view.