Venezuela's US FAA safety upgrade diverts embargo

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US FAA officials have upgraded Venezuela to category 1 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, diverting an embargo that would have banned most US airline service to the South American country.

The agency’s ruling today comes after weeks of negotiations between the two governments.

Venezuela early this year warned that it would limit US carriers’ access to Venezuela if a more than decade’s old category 2 rating was not upgraded. Under the plan, all of Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines flights to Caracas would be banned, while almost 70% of American Airlines’ service would be prohibited.

Its latest deadline for imposing the threat was to expire on April 25.

The category 2 rating held by Venezuela since 1996 has limited the country’s airlines from serving the USA to costly wet-lease arrangements.

The FAA is expected to release a statement on the upgrade later today.