Venezuela's Supreme Court has ruled that Avensa has the right to European routes awarded 11 years ago, even though it did not fly those routes over most of that time.

General Moises Orozco, the recently dismissed minister of transport, tried to revoke Avensa's 1987 award of routes to Lisbon, Madrid, and Rome on the grounds, among others, that Avensa had only operated them for a short period. Privately owned Avensa suspended those flights when state-owned Viasa began competing on the same routes.

Avensa filed suit to stop revocation of its routes. Venezuela's other airlines hoped the case would clarify the question of whether an airline forfeits routes for any reason other than bankruptcy. That is the only reason cited in the statute. Despite that, General Orozco has taken the position that routes previously awarded to Viasa still belong to Viasa's estate and can be sold with that bankrupt airline's remaining assets. In a separate lawsuit filed over this issue, Venezuela's other carriers counter that Viasa forfeited its routes through bankruptcy and those routes should be available for reallocation to other airlines.

In its four to one decision, the Supreme Court did not fully address the forfeiture issue. Instead chief justice Cecilia Sosa Gomez says the minister of transport acted maliciously and with disregard of the law in trying to revoke Avensa's routes. The chief justice declared that Avensa now has the right to commence service, but the question is whether the transport ministry will help it exercise that right.

No one is sure how Orozco's newly appointed successor, Julio Marti, will view these issues.

Source: Airline Business