U.S. flights resuming between United States and Venezuela
Service had been suspended over safety concerns
August 8, 1996
Web posted at: 10:00 p.m. EDT
CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- U.S. air carriers were to resume
service Thursday night between Venezuela and the United
States, while both countries tried to reach an agreement on
airline safety measures, the Venezuelan transportation
minister told CNN Spanish.
Most flights between the two countries were grounded
Wednesday by the Venezuelan government, leaving hundreds of
passengers stranded. At least eight flights bound for Miami
or New York from Simon Bolivar International Airport in
Caracas were canceled on Thursday.
Neither government clearly explained why the flights were
canceled, but it appeared to come in retaliation for recent
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration findings that Venezuela
must tighten its airline safety procedures.
The United States has been considering downgrading
Venezuela's airlines from Category II to
Category III, banning the air carriers from the United States
until they meet international safety standards.
FAA and Venezuelan officials have disagreed on corrective
measures. On Thursday, Venezuelan Transportation Minister
Moises Orozco Graterol met with U.S. Transportation Secretary
Federico Pena; Jeffrey Davidow, assistant secretary of state
for interamerican affairs; and FAA officials.
"The negotiations are making headway," Orozco said. He said
Venezuela expects to reach an agreement with U.S. officials
no later than Friday to avoid slipping into Category III. The
United States downgraded Venezuelan airlines to Category II
U.S. aviation officials this week delayed or suspended flights from the United States to Caracas by several Venezuela carriers, including Avensa-ServiVensa and Zuliana de Aviacion.
Two Viasa flights from Miami touched down more than five hours late Wednesday night. The newspaper El Nacional reported Wednesday that the FAA is considering a ban on all flights by Venezuela carriers.
The Venezuelan government barred two American Airlines flights from taking off for Miami on Wednesday. Eventually, the planes were allowed to leave empty. Four American Airlines flights Thursday to Miami and New York were canceled, as were two United flights and two Viasa flights.
About 370 passengers were stranded in Venezuela, including 185 internationals who were put up at hotels, American Airlines spokeswoman Andreas Rader said from the company's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. She said American Airlines was making arrangements to fly them out on other carriers.
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