After their flight last Sunday, an Air Europa crew took a shuttle service from Simón Bolívar (Caracas) Airport, Venezuela to their downtown hotel when suddenly their transport was surrounded by three motorcycles. The assailants attacked and tried to rob the crew. Private security guards engaged the robbers resulting in a shootout. None of the crew members got injured but the crew refused to stay at the hotel. Instead, a police convoy brought them – and the return crew – back to the airport where they caught the flight back to Madrid.
One month ago, Air Europa pilots asked their management to skip their overnight stay over concerns of violence and unrest in the Venezuelan capital. Like their colleagues at Iberia. As the airline refused their demand, the crews have now objected to fly to Caracas. Worse, unions SEPLA (pilots) and SITCPLA (cabin crew) have brought the airline before the Spanish labour inspectorate.
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against traveling to the country except in case of “extreme need” and warns that the airport of Caracas is a high risk area due to the proliferation of robberies in its vicinity. The crew have received seven tips through Air Europa’s Security Department what to do in case of kidnapping, implying an implicit recognition of the dangerous situation in the country.
Air Europa, part of Globalia, Spain’s largest tourist group, is owned by Pepe Hidalgo. According to Reportur.co, Venezuela still owns Globalia around $200 million. A reason why the company likes to continue operating to the country. “They owe me 200 million dollars and all I want is for them to pay me. I would like to continue operating just like the French and American airlines continue to do, but if something happens we are prepared and ready to leave the country,” the businessman said, who repeated that the flight is financially important for the company.
It’s now understood that Air Europa has finally decided to add a stopover to its Caracas service and crew will now layover in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.