Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Air Canada has announced that it will suspend its service to Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. While Air Canada attributed the decision to the ongoing protests and civil unrest underway in Caracas, Air Canada is one of a number of carriers engaged in an ongoing dispute with the Venezuelan government over their inability to access funds from ticket sales because of the country's currency controls. The problems are related to a bizarre practice of Venezuelan citizens purchasing airline tickets, not for the purpose of actually flying, but because possessing a valid airline ticket enables them to exchange local currency for U.S. dollars at the official exchange rate, which is considerably lower than the unofficial rate. This has led to excessive overbooking of international flights out of Venezuela, though a number of foreign carriers have stopped selling tickets until they can be assured they will be paid for the sales.