West Caribbean suspends operations in wake of crash

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Flight International online news 10:00 GMT:  West Caribbean Airways, the operator of the Boeing MD-82 aircraft which crashed in Venezuela on 16 August, has suspended all operations owing to a lack of capacity.

Colombian civil aviation administration Aerocivil says it has not imposed the suspension but that the airline’s decision appears to have been initiated because it simply does not have enough aircraft to continue operating.

But Aerocivil says it “supports the inactivity of the airline” given the “situation created by the accident”.

According to Aerocivil, another four MD-80 aircraft at the carrier have been grounded since early July, after Aerocivil set an ultimatum to the airline to correct a number of "diverse maintenance issues".

Since then only one aircraft, the one which suffered the accident, has been released from this unscheduled maintenance programme. According to Aerocivil, the aircraft had been inspected "days before the accident" with everything found to be "in order".

Colombian carrier Avianca has reinforced capacity on some of the routes operated by West Caribbean while Aerocivil has leased a Colombian air force Boeing 707 to transport passengers stranded after the accident.

RAINER UPHOFF / MADRID