Commercial passenger flights between Colombia and Venezuela have resumed after more than two years. The inaugural flight was operated by Venezuelan carrier Turpial Airlines, followed by a flight operated by its counterpart, Satena Airlines from Colombia.
Flights between both countries were initially paused in early 2020 due to the developing COVID pandemic. However, strained relationships between the two governments also hampered early efforts to reconnect the neighboring countries. Venezuela was the last country in the region to reopen its borders, allowing access to specific destinations only, including Russia, Iran, Mexico, and Bolivia in a first stage.
With the recent election of Colombia’s first-ever left-leaning president, Gustavo Petro, relations between the Colombian and Venezuelan governments have improved, adding Colombia to the list of allowed destinations.
Reopening direct flights between both countries is essential for Caracas, with Bogota being its primary market before the pandemic. During the prime years of aviation in Venezuela, Colombian carriers such as Avianca, Wingo, and LATAM operated more than 12 daily flights between Caracas and Bogota. However, following the deterioration of relationships between Venezuela and the former Colombian government’s administration, direct air connectivity was eliminated.
Esto es conocido como sentimiento de lluvia, un bautizo para nuestro vuelo inaugural #Bogotá – #Caracas✈️. #ConSATENARUMBOA reencontrarnos ♥️. #Colombia #Venezuela #VenezuelaYColombiaJuntas #Vuelos pic.twitter.com/9dLYXc9ZGJ
— SATENA es Colombia 🇨🇴 / SATENA is Colombia (@AerolineaSatena) November 10, 2022
The bi-weekly flights, operated by Turpial Airlines, are scheduled to leave Caracas at 5:00 PM on Mondays and 6:00 PM on Saturdays, touching down in Bogota (BOG) at 5:30 PM, and 6:30 PM, respectively. The return journey is scheduled to leave Bogota at 6:30 PM on Mondays and 19:30 on Saturdays, landing in Caracas at 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM, respectively.
All flights will be operated by a Boeing 737-400, which has a total capacity of 144 passengers. However, only 49 passengers took the maiden flight on Monday.
One-way prices start at $240 on Turpial’s website, which may put these flights out of reach for most Venezuelans, whose average monthly wage is much lower than the cost of one of these tickets.
In addition to Turpial and Satena, Caracas-based Laser Airlines also has a permit from Venezuelan officials to operate the Caracas-Bogota route. However, no schedule details have yet been released. LATAM—the largest airline in Latin America—has also applied to operate the route, along with Avianca and Wingo—a low-cost Colombian carrier owned by Copa Airlines.
The Venezuelan flag carrier, Conviasa, had also been granted a permit to operate flights between the two countries in September, but its license was revoked after the U.S. government complained due to its ongoing sanctions against the airline.
It is expected that now that two official airlines from each country have launched flights, private airlines should follow.
At present, Venezuela continues partially closed to international flights. Foreign carriers Turkish Airlines, Iberia, Air Europa, Copa Airlines, Plus Ultra, TAP Air Portugal and Satena are the only ones authorized by the Venezuelan government to offer flights to the country.