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Germany's Lufthansa suspends flights to cash-strapped Venezuela

Germany's flagship carrier has stopped flying to Venezuela due to the country's economic woes. Lufthansa joins a growing list of international carriers giving up on Venezuela.

Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa on Friday suspended flights to Venezuela until further notice, ending 45 years of service to the capital Caracas due to the country's economic meltdown.

"The difficult economic circumstances in Venezuela and the inability to transfer local currency into US dollars have led to this decision," Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow told DW.

In addition to declining demand for the three flights per week from Lufthansa's hub in Frankfurt to Caracas, Venezuela also owes the airline hundreds of millions of dollars.

Venezuela Flughafen in Caracas Ankunftshalle

Passenger arrivals in Caracas have slowed to a trickle.

Lufthansa passengers will still be able to reach Caracas through connections provided by Colombia's Avianca and Panama's Copa airlines. Lufthansa runs daily flights from Frankfurt to Bogota and five flights a week to Panama City.

The economic crisis and restrictions in Venezuela have prevented Lufthansa from converting local sales into dollars, a problem compounded by sky-high inflation. The official exchange rate is 10 bolivars to the dollar, but on the black market the greenback can fetch up to 1,000 bolivars.

Lufthansa joins a growing list of international carriers giving up on Venezuela, including Alitalia, the Brazilian airline Gol, and the Ecuadorian airline Tame.

The oil-rich country is beset by the world's highest inflation, dwindling foreign currency reserves and widespread

shortages of the most basic goods.

The twin political and economic crises in the country have forced President Nicolas Maduro to take extraordinary measures and declare a state of emergency as pressure mounts on him to step down.

The opposition that controls congress is trying to recall Maduro through a referendum, but

the president has refused to concede.

The political deadlock and economic desperation threatens to spill over into political violence. Caracas is already one of the world's most dangerous cities.

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