PANAMA CITY/CARACAS (Reuters) - Panama will ban several Venezuelan airlines from working in the country for at least 90 days, the government said on Tuesday, the latest twist in a dispute that began when Venezuelan officials were put on a “high risk” money laundering list.
The suspension of Venezuela’s major carriers in a regional hub further isolates the crisis-hit country, after most international airlines pulled out, citing economic and security concerns.
The targets are companies that have struggled to fill the travel vacuum, including state-owned Conviasa and Aeropostal, as well as private companies Avior, Laser, Santa Barbara and Turpial.
In March, Panama put more than 50 Venezuelans, including President Nicolas Maduro, on a “high risk” list for laundering money and financing terrorism.
In response, Venezuela last week halted commercial relations with Panamanian officials and companies, including airline Copa, for alleged involvement in money laundering, prompting both countries to recall their ambassadors.
Panama’s government said in a statement on Tuesday that the airlines would be suspended for 90 days from April 25.
The Venezuelan government did not respond to a request for comment.
Reporting by Elida Moreno; Additional reporting by Girish Gupta in Caracas; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Sandra Maler