FAA Issues Emergency Order Restricting Venezuela Flights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency order restricting Venezuela flights. This emergency order came in response to the current political violence in Venezuela.

Simon Bolivar International Airport
No U.S. air carriers have flown to Venezuela’s main international airport, Simon Bolivar International Airport, since March. Photo: Wikimedia.

What are the details?

According to CNBC, the FAA’s emergency order prohibits all U.S. air operators from flying below 26,000 feet in Venezuela’s airspace. The order will stay in place until further notice. The Federal Aviation Administration deemed it necessary to implement the restrictions due to “increasing political instability and tensions.”

Furthermore, the FAA has urged all U.S. air operators in Venezuela at the present time to leave the country within 48 hours. This also includes operators of private jets.

No U.S. commercial airline currently offers service to Venezuela. As a matter of fact, American Airlines was the last U.S. airline to stop flying to Venezuela.

American Airlines Boeing 777
American Airlines provided service to Venezuela for over 30 years. Photo: American Airlines.

USA Today reported in March that American Airlines was suspending its flights to Venezuela indefinitely. The airline used to provide service between Miami and Caracas and Miami and Maracaibo. The airline had temporarily suspended its flights to Venezuela after its pilots’ union had raised concerns about the safety of flights to Venezuela earlier in the month.

What does the emergency order mean for U.S. air operators?

U.S. air operators can still fly over Venezuela. However, they have to stay above 26,000 feet. They also have the option to avoid the airspace over Venezuela altogether.

According to CNBC, OPSGROUP stated that air operators that choose to avoid Venezuelan airspace may choose “routes west via Colombia or east via Guyana.”

What exactly does the FAA emergency order state?

The FAA emergency order basically states that all flight operations in Venezuelan airspace at altitudes below FL 260 (26,000 feet) are prohibited for the time being. The FAA considers the current situation in Venezuela to be an “inadvertent risk to flight operations.”

The emergency order does not only include U.S. air operators and N-registered aircraft though. In fact, it also includes all pilots holding a pilot certificate issued by the FAA. The only exceptions would be pilots that operate a U.S. registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier and air operators that have obtained approval by an agency of the U.S. government.

Have there been any issues with airlines operating flights to Venezuela?

There was recently an incident involving an Air Europa crew. As reported by Simple Flying in March, an Air Europa crew was attacked in Venezuela. The crew was on their way to their overnight hotel when they were involved in a shootout. More specifically, three armed motorcyclists surrounded the crew’s bus and tried to rob them. The bus continued to the hotel, but when they arrived the motorcyclists opened fire. Thankfully, the crew escaped unharmed.

Air Europa Dreamliner
Air Europa considered suspending service to Venezuela after the incident. Photo: Boeing.

Do you think that it was a good idea for the FAA to issue the emergency order restricting Venezuela flights?