Conviasa: The misery of (not) flying

Probably one of the most misleading slogans in recent memory…

Last week, the passengers of state-owned Conviasa flight 3013 from Madrid to Caracas found themselves trapped into a nightmare: the flight was suspended, and no immediate back-up plan was in place. They got stuck in a hotel for several days, left mostly to their own devices (at least they had lodging and food).

Prodavinci’s Daniel Fermin has a series of chronicles that followed their desperate situation in great detail, including pictures (Days 1 & 2 here, three, four, five and the last couple of days when they finally returned home). Their ordeal also attracted the attention of the Spanish media, including this report on TVE’s Telediario last Saturday.

What caused all of this? Simple, Conviasa was leasing an Airbus A340-200 aircraft from Italian airline Blue Panorama and because they didn’t pay them (because Cencoex), they terminated the contract. But the airline focused its PR efforts instead on “guaranteeing the continuity of its commercial operations” and bringing the passengers back.

But the return home wasn’t the last of their problems: some of the passengers claimed that the baggage was delivered two hours late, and that their suitcases were either missing or vandalized. Some even claimed that Conviasa’s personnel threatened those who tried to take pictures with their phones with breaking them. Charming, but can you expect from the official airline of a narco-state?

Delays were also reported in a Conviasa flight to Buenos Aires (also served by Blue Panorama’s aircraft), and even in some of its domestic flights. Matter of fact, most domestic flights are facing constant delays because of the lack of airplanes.

As the crisis caused by the huge debt of the central government with international air carriers (4,1 billion dollars) continues, IATA’s Director General Tony Tyler has warned of the isolation Venezuela could face, but Aerial Transportation Minister Luis Graterol said the complete opposite: “The state has no debt with the airlines”.

In the meantime, Conviasa’s earlier pledge of taking over flights suspended by other airlines is brought down by reality. But what else can be expected of an airline that openly engages in political discrimination?

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  1. Seems like they’re not paying anyone, they appear to have been thrown out of their office here in Bogotá, the only way to contact them is at the airport around the time one of their 2 daily flights from Caracas comes in. They don’t answer the phones either…

  2. Didn’t we just *know* this was going to happen eventually? Part of me feels bad for the poor passengers, but seriously, how *desperate* do you have to be to travel in an airline populated by chavistas? I mean, have we learned nothing?

    Let’s just hope this convinces us that, as far as Venezuela goes, state-owned airlines are the same as state-owned anythings – crap. The thing is practically bankrupt, just like the idea that generated it in the first place. Still, I venture to say we have not learned anything.

    • It’s like a pyramid scheme. Everyone knows it’s gonna fall, everyone hopes it’s the day after they get their benefit

  3. Ok, the country is about to be abandoned by most airlines and these guys are themselves abandoning the Conviasa project on to its own death. It’s like don’t give a rat’s ass anymore about hiding the truth on the decadent state of air travel in the country.

    Think how bad the situation really is: not event the national airlines is getting resources.


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