Lufthansa has cancelled the only flight between Germany and Venezuela, underlining the worsening conditions and growing isolation of the South American country. The German airline has flown from its Frankfurt hub to Venezuela’s capital Caracas three times a week. But in an email to Venezuelan customers on Saturday night European time, the company said it would cancel the route from June 17. Several other international carriers have halted or reduced their Venezuelan operations, including Air Canada, American Airlines and Alitalia, in large part because of the socialist government’s tight currency controls, which left them with billions in unpaid bills.
Near-empty tarmac at the airport serving Caracas is an increasingly common sight in a country ravaged by a social, political and economic crisis. The International Monetary Fund forecasts the economy will shrink 8 per cent this year, and 4.5 per cent in 2017. Inflation is galloping and is forecast to exceed 1,642 per cent next year. Lufthansa’s decision is the latest signal of the dire state of the Venezuelan economy, which was highlighted by food shortages and looting in parts of the country alongside power and water rationing. Lufthansa confirmed the decision reflected Venezuela’s economic condition. Demand on the route has fallen over the past few years as fewer business travellers visit the country.