Air Canada suspends flights to Caracas

March 17 Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:15pm EDT

March 17 (Reuters) - Air Canada has suspended flights to Caracas until further notice citing the ongoing civil unrest in Venezuela, and said it could no longer ensure the safety of its operation.

The airline, which operates three return flights weekly between Toronto and Caracas, said the suspension is effective March 18.

Since early February, students and hardline opposition leaders have been calling supporters onto the streets to protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist government.

Airlines have struggled to obtain dollars in exchange for the bolivar currency as a result of long-running delays in Venezuela's 11-year-old currency control system.

Avianca Holdings, operator of Colombia's biggest airline, last week told travel agents it will cut flights between the countries' capitals to one a day from three as of March 20.

German airline Lufthansa said earlier in the month that its 2013 financial results took a double-digit million euro hit from payment issues in Venezuela.

Air Canada said on Monday that it will continue to monitor the situation in Venezuela and will consider resuming operations on the route once it is satisfied that the situation has stabilized.

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