The Venezuelan Civil Aviation Authority (INAC) has temporarily banned Curacao-based Dutch Antilles Express from operating to the country over alleged "safety infractions".
INAC claims that ramp inspections performed last January revealed a number of relevant "incompliances with international safety regulations" that have "not been corrected by the airline since then". The inspected aircraft were in "no-go" conditions, according to INAC on 14 May.
A source at Dutch Antilles rejects all of the Venezuelan claims over the safety of its aircraft. "All issues found were minor, certainly not no-go," they say. "The problems have been corrected and we communicated this to the Venezuelan authorities. As a matter of fact, the aircraft which they rejected is currently undergoing a C-check, so the flight ban is unrelated to a particular aircraft."
"We also tried to get authorisation to operate the routes with another ATR or US registered [McDonnell Douglass] MD-80 aircraft, but the Venezuelans did not even respond to our requests," they add. "The decision just doesn't make sense to us."
Neither INAC nor Dutch Antilles would identify the aircraft rejected during the ramp inspections. The airline typically operates Fokker 100s and ATR turboprops on its Venezuelan routes to Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia. It currently has a F-100 undergoing a C-Check.
The conflict is notable as Dutch Antilles' chief executive Nelson Ramiz is the former owner and chief executive of Aeropostal, Venezuela's former largest airline that has since then been nationalised.