Ecuador airline suspends Venezuela flights because of unpaid debts

QUITO Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:44am EST

QUITO Jan 24 (Reuters) - Ecuador's airline TAME has temporarily suspended its direct flights to Caracas because it is owed about $43 million for ticket sales held by Venezuela's central bank.

A wide range of industries in Venezuela say they are waiting for the currency control authorities to disburse billions of dollars in hard currency. Airlines say they are owed about $3.3 billion between them and some have cut back on flights.

"When we receive the money owed to TAME, we will restart the flights immediately," the Ecuadorean airline said in a statement issued late on Thursday.

TAME, the only Ecuador carrier that ran daily flights between the two countries, said the $43 million was from ticket sales in Venezuela since April 2013. It said passengers who bought tickets for suspended flights would be reimbursed.