Due to growing instability in Venezuela, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an order banning U.S. airlines from flying under 26,000 feet (7.9 km) in the country’s airspace.
The emergency NOTAM KICZ A0013/19 was issued on May 1, 2019, with no expiration date. U.S. pilots and aircraft, including private planes, have 48 hours to leave the country if conditions allow it.
The FAA reacted to “increasing political instability and tensions in Venezuela” as the situation took a violent turn on April 30, 2019. Troops that defected to Juan Guaidó clashed with armed forces supporting Nicolás Maduro in Caracas. With regular armed forces involved in the protests, the FAA may fear the use of anti-aircraft weapons that could compromise the security of commercial flights.
Due to the unrest, Air France flight AF368 between Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport (CDG) and Caracas-Simon Bolivar international airport (CCS) turned back in the middle of the Atlantic on April 30, 2019. A spokesperson of the company said to AFP that it regrets “the inconvenience of the situation”, stressing that all passengers would “be taken care of by the commercial staff of the company upon their arrival” at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle. Air France did not officially cancel the route but said it “monitors the situation in real time and informs customers of any changes in its flight schedule.” The next flight is scheduled for April 2, 2019.
Air France flight #AF368 from Paris to Caracas made a U-turn over the Atlantic and is returning to Paris – probably becasue of the ongoing political situation in Caracashttps://t.co/lOSIxwHNM3 pic.twitter.com/gmTBOdV1v5
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) April 30, 2019
The last remaining U.S. airline to operate to and from Venezuela, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) , suspended their flights in March 2019. Maduro’s economic policies and unrest in the country have led to the cancelation of most of the routes towards the South American country in the past years, starting with Air Canada (ADH2) in 2014.
There was one exception to the rule, however: on April 8, 2019, Iranian airline Mahan Air reportedly opened a new regular route between Tehran and Caracas. Mahan Air’s website does not list the destination at the moment.