“We, TAP and our embassy on behalf of TAP, have applied for two humanitarian flights in December and two humanitarian flights in January. The first flight for the month of December had departed today. Unfortunately, this has not happened because the Venezuelan authorities have not yet responded to us, despite insistence and the requests we made to allow these flights,” said Carlos de Sousa Amaro.
According to the diplomat, the embassy argued that “the Portuguese community is made up of elderly people, and they have some difficulties in mobility.”
The Portuguese community in Venezuela “also consists of a large proportion of people of Madeira origin, who intend to spend Christmas with their families in Madeira and find it difficult to take long trips as well as to commute several times, until their arrival.” to Funchal.
“Unfortunately, our request has not yet been responded to,” the diplomat stressed.
When asked about the reason for this situation, Carlos de Souza Amaro said: “I have no idea. Our embassy insisted, but so far we have not received any response.”
The ambassador explained that he himself will spend Christmas with his family in Portugal and will travel via Istanbul.
“In the case of a person who goes to Madeira, he will have to go to Istanbul, which is another four and a half hours trip there (12 hours total) and then another four hours of the trip to Lisbon, plus a flight between Lisbon and Funchal. It becomes a trip,” the diplomat said. Very long and stressful, especially for people of some age.”
Carlos de Sousa Amaro explained that the alternatives are via Moscow and via Punta Cana, but none are “as good as a direct drive from Caracas to Lisbon or from Lisbon to Caracas”.
According to the diplomat, there are also many cases of people who are in Portugal, who have family in Venezuela and would like to travel to Caracas to spend Christmas and New Year with them.
Several travel agents, consulted by Lusa, explained that the local Portuguese community had repeatedly requested the resumption of direct flights to Portugal. They also do not understand why so many companies are allowed to fly at Christmas time, namely between Caracas and Madrid.
“Operations of commercial aviation, public and private aviation” remain restricted in Venezuela, a measure according to the National Institute of Civil Aviation (INAC) that must comply with government guidelines “to ensure the health of citizens residing in the country, through policies to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic – 19”.
According to INAC, “Exceptional commercial air operations are permitted to carry passengers, cargo and mail between Venezuela and sister countries such as Turkey, Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Russia.”
The Venezuelan press reported that the Venezuelan authorities allowed several companies to operate flights to Madrid between December 2021 and January 2022.
In 2020, Portugal brought back more than 1,200 Portuguese on five repatriation flights. Turkish Airlines has carried out three of these flights.
The purpose of the flights was to bring back Portuguese stranded in the Latin American country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Venezuela has been on alert since March 13, 2020, allowing the executive branch to enact “radical decisions” to combat the pandemic.
Covid-19 has caused at least 5,286,793 deaths worldwide, among the more than 267.88 million new coronavirus infections recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest report from AFP.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which was discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan, central China, and currently with variants identified in several countries.
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