April 9, 2018 / 7:18 PM / 3 months ago

Venezuela reopens air, sea links to Caribbean islands

VALENCIA, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela on Monday reopened air and sea links to the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, three months after cutting them off in an attempt to curb smuggling.

The move is a welcome relief to those in Venezuela who can afford to fly out, after Copa, one of the last major airlines still operating in the OPEC nation, was forced by authorities to suspend services last week.

The majority of international airlines have pulled out of the crisis-hit country over the last few years, citing economic and security concerns.

An Aruba Airlines plane took off from Valencia airport, some 150 km (93 miles) from Caracas, on Monday morning on its way to the Aruban capital of Oranjestad.

Transport Minister Carlos Osorio announced the reopening of links from the runway.

Panama’s Copa, a major regional carrier, was included in a list of companies with which the Venezuelan government broke economic relations last week.

Venezuelan authorities cited alleged money laundering by Panamanian officials and companies, prompting both countries to recall their ambassadors.

Reporting by Tibisay Romero; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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