What is the National Airline in Venezuela?
Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronáuticas y Servicios Aéreos (Conviasa) is the national and largest airline of Venezuela after succeeding the former airline, Venezolana Internacional de Aviación Sociedad Anónima (Viasa).
Viasa was the national airline until it collapsed in 1997. It was established in 1960 with its headquarters in Caracas. The government was the majority shareholder holding 55% of the shareholders while private investors held the remaining 45%. By 1970 Viasa operated a fleet of 14 planes which included flights to Europe. Since it was established, the airline had been making profits but in 1976 the rising fuel costs saw it register low profits that almost resulted in losses. It was nationalized by the government which planned to downscale its operations and turned to selling some of the aircraft to reduce operational costs. In 1987 the airline began operating internal flights within Venezuela. In 1989, the government allocated 60% to private investors, kept 20%, and issued 20% to the airline workers. Iberia and KLM airlines were the only two bidders but KLM steeped out after claiming the US$145.5 million offer for 60% was too high. Iberia took over as the majority shareholder but poor management by the airline led to constant losses which lead to the airline collapsing in January 1997.
On March 30, 2004, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez signed a decree to re-establish the national airline. On November 28, 2004, Conviasa’s De Havilland Canada Dash 7 aircraft made the airline’s inaugural flight to Santiago Mariño International Airport. On September 17, 2010, Flight 2350 crashed and the government ceased all Conviasa flight operation so it could perform a technical review of all aircraft until October 1, 2010. On April 3, 2012, the European Union banned all Conviasa aircraft from operating in its airspace due to safety concerns after it failed to adopt measures to prevent accidents. However, the ban was lifted on July 10, 2013, after negotiation between the EU and the government of Venezuela.
Eighty percent of Conviasa is owned by the government and run by the Ministry of Aquatic and Air Transport while the regional government of Nueva Esparta owns twenty percent. Its headquarters is situated at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, Venezuela. The airline began facing financial operations that affected its operations, and by August 2016, 80% of the airline pilots had resigned from their jobs due to unpaid dues. Some of the airline's aircraft had also been suspended for mechanical problems and had remained unused for several months. On May 5, 2017, the airline suspended international operations because of lack of foreign currency to pay for foreign insurance. In May 2017, Wamos Air which operated a Boeing 747-400 between Madrid and Caracas terminated its contact with Conviasa after a short notice. As of August 2017, the airline operated flights to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Grenada, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and internal flights. In May 2017, Conviasa suspended its flight to Spain which was its only destination in Europe.