The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned US carriers and pilots from flying below 26,000ft over Venezuela owing to security concerns.

An emergency NOTAM issued on 1 May states that the ban is in place until further notice “due to increasing political instability and tensions in Venezuela and the associated inadvertent risk to flight operations.”

It extends to all US air carriers and pilots flying under FAA licenses, but exempts those flying a US-registered aircraft on behalf of a foreign carrier.

Cirium schedules data shows that the only US carrier to fly to Venezuela is American Airlines, which has now cancelled its services from Caracas and Maracaibo to Miami.

Aircraft and pilots already in Venezuela have been given 48 hours to leave “if the pilot in command determines that the operation can be conducted safely.” An exemption is also in place for aircraft in emergency situations.

While the NOTAM did not reference any specific threat to US aircraft, the direction appears to be aimed at reducing the likelihood of an aircraft being inadvertently shot down by a man-portable air defence system.

Civil unrest in Venezuela has been growing, with opposition leader Juan Guaido calling on his supporters to take to the streets on 30 April to force president Nicolas Maduro from power, leading to clashes with government forces.

The US administration has been actively calling for Maduro to resign since January when it recognised Guaido as the country’s leader.

Source: Cirium Dashboard