THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) began operations on April 1, 1967, with the mission of ensuring a safer and more efficient transportation system for U.S. citizens.
Among the many functions performed by the DOT is to determine the safety conditions for passengers and crew traveling to and from airports, as well as the public interest in transportation.
That said, last Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation resolved to fine Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A. (COPA) for the amount of $450,000.00, together with the order to cease the violations established in the DOT Order 2019-5-5.
According to the official statement, the DOT's Office of Aviation Consumer Protection conducted an investigation in which it determined that the Panamanian company was selling tickets for air travel between Venezuela and the United States through stopover points, transporting approximately 15,000 passengers on that itinerary.
Contents of Order 2019-5-5
The Order from which the penalties imposed became effective on May 15, 2019.The Department of Transportation imposed the "Suspension of Air Flight Services to or from Venezuela". In this regard, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security presented a document in which it was determined that, conditions in Venezuela constituted a threat to passengers, aircraft, flight crew and public interests.
The factors that led to this conclusion are as follows:
- Riots and violence around airports.
- The inability of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to gain access to Venezuelan airports to conduct required assessments to ensure that adequate security measures are in place.
- The economic and political crisis in Venezuela.
- Cancellation of flights for the country by the airline American Airlines.
- The publication issued by the Department of State, which determined that Venezuela is not a safe destination for travel, placing it at Level 4 - do not travel - as well as the suspension of the operations of the U.S. Embassy in Venezuelan territory.
- The prohibition issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Based on the foregoing, it was agreed that the immediate suspension of for the transportation of passengers or cargo by U.S. or foreign airlines, as well as charter air transportation to or from any airport located in Venezuela.
THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is an office operating within the DOT structure., charged with providing security in the aerospace system, which on May 1, 2019 published a related briefing paper on Venezuela and U.S. Civil Aviation.
The FAA banned U.S. civilian flight operations in Venezuelan territory and airspace. at altitudes below Flight Level 260, i.e., around 4,900 meters above sea level, due to political and economic tensions and instabilities in the country, circumstances that in his opinion constituted a danger to U.S. Civil Aviation.
The above-mentioned prohibitions do not apply when air operations are authorized by the U.S. Government Agency with FAA approval or other authorization issued by the same office.