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Venezuela has prohibited Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines from flying into the country and is restricting American Airlines, Francisco Paz, the president of the National Aviation Institute, said late Thursday. The ban would take effect March 1.
All three airlines are meeting with the government to discuss the restrictions but for now, the impact on South Florida will be minimal.
Venezuela's restrictions on American, the only affected carrier that flies out of Miami, would allow it to maintain its current three daily Miami-Caracas flights. However, American had planned to reinstate a fourth daily flight next month.
''We're meeting with the Venezuelan government today, but we have nothing more to say,'' said American spokeswoman Martha Pantín.
The carrier also would not be allowed to fly its current daily flight from Miami to Maracaibo, Pantín said.
And, the carrier also would be restricted from flying any of its five weekly flights to Caracas from Dallas-Fort Worth, two weekly from New York's JFK or daily flight from San Juan, P.R., she said.
The measure was taken, Paz said, because the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, restricted commercial jets registered in Venezuela 10 years ago due to safety violations.
The State Department on Friday said the Venezuelan government's decision to restrict U.S. flights to the country was ''unjustified'' and that Washington will consider a retaliation.
''We are in touch with the U.S. air carriers as well as the government of Venezuela to find out more facts and to resolve this matter satisfactorily,'' State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.
He said the action violated the 1953 Air Transport Services Agreement between the United States and Venezuela. ``We're working to get them to respect the agreement because it's unilateral, it's unjustified, it's unwarranted.''