On Tuesday, April 10, the office of Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced that Panama will ban Venezuelan airlines, including those running passenger and cargo flights, from operating in the country for 90 days beginning on April 25. The decision is apparently in response to a Venezuelan ban on Copa Airlines and other Panamanian companies operating in Venezuela, announced on April 5, amid a recent diplomatic row between the two countries. Regional powers are expected to call for increased pressure on Venezuela during the Summit of the Americas on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, in Lima.
Previously, the Venezuelan government levied accusations that Panamanian officials - including President Juan Carlos Varela and others in his cabinet - and companies have engaged in money laundering, presenting an "imminent risk" to the Venezuelan financial system. For its part, Panama had declared Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and dozens of other Venezuelan nationals to be at "high risk" for financing terrorism and money laundering.
Copa Airlines was one of the few airlines still serving Venezuela. Airlines including Santa Bárbara Airlines (SBA), American Airlines, Avianca, Iberia, Air France, United Airlines, Delta, Lufthansa, Air Canada, LATAM, and AeroMexico have suspended or reduced services to and from Venezuela in recent years due to currency exchange issues combined with low demand and deteriorating security conditions.
Individuals in or planning travel to Panama and Venezuela are advised to monitor developments to the situation, confirm flight reservations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. Contact your airline for more information.