Published On: Wed, Dec 4th, 2013

Antillean Airlines in acute problems by default Venezuela

Tiara airWILLEMSTAD, ORANJESTAD - Venezuela still owes so much money to airlines in the Antilles that some of them have come into acute distress. This is according to some sources in Curacao and Aruba to Luchtvaartnieuws.nl. Especially the Tiara Air Aruba is in a difficult position. The Curacao based InselAir is still standing though its partner KLM is also waiting on seventy million dollars from Caracas. In total all airlines together (including non-Antillean) have about $ 2.6 billion in overdue payments from Venezuela.

"InselAir has taken measures to overcome this," said CEO Albert Kluyver at his office in Willemstad, without wanting to give further Kluyverdetails. Tiara Air does not have these financial reserves. The staff has not received any wages since last month, because the management is awaiting money from Venezuela. Last Friday a part of Tiara’s employees were on strike in Oranjestad, they demanded their salary. The management said they don’t know what to do about the Venezuelan negligence. Divi Divi Air (from Curacao) and Ezair (Bonaire) are also struggling with defaults from Caracas.

Lucrative

The transport of Venezuelans, especially those working in the oil industry in Curaçao and the other West Indies (former Netherlands Antilles) is because of the major transport stream very lucrative for local airlines. Provided there is payment and that’s exactly the problem: the Venezuelan CADIVI, the currency institution that pays the tickets, fell behind. "There are regular payments which come in," says Kluyver, "but the backlog is about ten months." His InselAir has built a buffer and knows how to survive.

The King

The Antillean and Dutch governments are "very helpful" and mediate as much as possible between the airlines and the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro. During the visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima to the Antilles and Venezuela in November, the issue also came up for discussion. Venezuelans then promised that the debt would be paid off, but that has not happened yet. In the Antilles there is doubt whether the neighbor will keep its promises.

The industry associations IATA and ALTA (for South and Central America) are negotiating with the government in Caracas to settle the debt and to make sure that future payment will go smoother.

By Lolke van der Heide

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