The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Panamanian flag carrier Copa Airlines US$450,000 for violation of a transport embargo between the US and Venezuela.
In May 2019, the DOT issued a blanket ban on commercial services to and from the South American nation, as part of a wider campaign to level economic pressure against the Maduro government and “concerns about the safety and security of passengers”. But in recent days, department officials have announced that Copa flouted this rule “for nearly a month” after its implementation.
“An investigation by DOT’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection found that … Copa sold more than 5,000 tickets for air travel between the United States and Venezuela and transported more than 15,000 passengers on these itineraries,” the DOT stated on 17 June.
“By transporting passengers between the United States and Venezuela, Copa violated the conditions of its authority to operate and engaged in passenger operations to and from the United States without proper DOT authority.”
On its part, Copa accepted that tickets were sold over this period, though it adds that any breach of restrictions “that may have occurred would not have been willful”. Moreover, the airline said that it relied on contacts with Panamanian and other US officials to ensure no future breaches occur.