Curacao's DAE seeks help against Venezuela ban

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Curaçao based airline Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) has asked the Dutch government to intervene in a conflict with Venezuelan civil aviation authority INAC, which banned all DAE flight operations to the country on 14 May.

DAE said on 5 August that after "going [unsuccessfully] through all administrative instances" in its protest against the "arbitrary ban" of DAE's flights from Curaçao to any destination in Venezuela, it will now seek a judicial order and international mediation against the measure.

According to DAE, the Venezuelan government has no right to maintain a safety-related ban on its operation to Caracas, Valencia and Maracaibo, claiming that the South American country is seeking to create a monopoly on the routes.

DAE says that it has asked the Dutch government to enact the bilateral treaty signed by Holland with Venezuela for its Caribbean territories as DAE is "fulfilling all international safety regulations". "Venezuela is violating the multilateral air traffic treaties it has signed with several countries," the airline says.

Although DAE makes no explicit mention of Venezuela's state-owned Conviasa, the situation resembles strongly the pressure exercised by the Argentinean government on now-defunct Uruguay-based Pluna, which was also trying to build a hub with traffic from its major neighbour, Argentina. In both cases the governments have strong interests to protect the international markets for their respective state-owned loss-making flag carriers, Conviasa and Aerolineas Argentinas, both of which have embarked on costly major new aircraft fleet acquisitions.

DAE also announces that it will introduce new routes from its Curaçao hub to Cali, Bucaramanga, Cucuta and Cartagena in Colombia, Barbados, Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), Montego Bay (Jamaica), Georgetown (Guyana), Cayenne (French Guiana), Havana (Cuba) as well as Belem and Manaus in northern Brazil.

The airline gives no details on launch dates, frequencies or potential new aircraft to service the routes. If the routes are launched, they will effectively transform the airline into a major regional player, connecting the northern regions of South America with the Caribbean.

DAE operates to Miami and Orlando in the USA, Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Aruba, Bonaire, Port of Prince (Haiti) and Saint Maarten.