Airline Crews Ditch Venezuela Layovers to Stay Out of Harm’s Way

(Bloomberg) -- The mounting political crisis in Venezuela has prompted European airlines to add a stop in the Caribbean so that pilots and flight attendants don’t have to spend the night in the strife-torn country.

Spanish airline Iberia has begun using Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as a staging post for its three weekly services from Madrid to Caracas, while Portugal’s TAP has introduced a crew change on the Dutch island of Curacao for two services from Lisbon operated by partner EuroAtlantic.

“There’s an extra cost for this, but the crew’s safety is our priority,” TAP said by email. Iberia declined to comment on the expense involved.

At least 35 people have died in Venezuela amid demonstrations that began last month as opposition leader Juan Guaido seeks the presidency and thousands march against the regime of Nicolas Maduro. The State Department issue a security alert on Jan. 25 ordering non-emergency government staff to leave the country after the U.S. recognized Guaido as interim leader.

Air France-KLM Group, the other big European carrier serving Venezuela, said it hasn’t introduced any changes to its six weekly flights from Paris and doesn’t currently plan to do so.

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