Venezuela has postponed its new restrictions on US airlines into their country for one month after talks with the US State Department. The country was planning on curtailing the ability for American, Delta, and Continental Airlines to fly into the country, but threats from the State Department to restrict further travel from Venezuela into the United States if these sanctions went into effect.
The threatened airline restrictions had heightened political tensions between left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the United States, which receives about 15 percent of its energy imports from Venezuela, the world’s No. 5 oil exporter.
Venezuela says it has improved aviation safety standards since it was first downgraded by the FAA in 1995, a move that imposed restrictions on Venezuelan airline services.
Under the FAA category two status, local airlines must lease aircraft and crew from a category one country to fly to U.S. airports and cannot expand flight services. Venezuelan airlines said they backed the ban because they wanted to force the United States to lift the restrictions.
Washington is caught in a heated dispute with Chavez over his close ties to Cuba and Iran. A self-styled socialist revolutionary, Chavez accuses U.S. officials of working to oust him while they counter that he is a threat to democracy.