Venezuela is in danger of being cut off from the rest of the world as air carriers consider cutting flights because the government refuses to pay them in currency other than the increasingly worthless Bolivar. Currently, international air carriers are reportedly owed $3.7 billion.
Friday President Maduro warned airlines not to cut flights despite not being paid saying “If airlines reduce [flights], I will take severe measures.” Maduro went on to say that the airlines complaints were part of an “economic war” against his rule.
Earlier this week the CEO of the International Air Transport Association, Tony Tyler, said that he had confronted President Maduro and warned him that air carriers would stop flying to Venezuela if they could not get their money out of the country.
A recent report suggested that Lufthansa is waiting to be paid as much as $100 million for flights out of the country. Colombia’s largest air carrier announced this week that it would cut 74 percent of its flights to Venezuela.
The underlying problem is rampant inflation in Venezuela. Officially it stands at 56 percent but unofficially it may be much higher. As a result the country has a severe shortage of dollars with which to pay air carriers. The country has been plagued by shortages of imported goods including basics like milk, flour and toilet paper. These shortages have played a major role in the current unrest that is now entering its second month.