Air Europa pilots, represented by the Spanish pilots trade union SEPLA, have requested layover alternatives on its 3X-weekly Madrid-Caracas services because of safety concerns.

According to an Aug. 10 statement, SEPLA recommends avoiding overnight crew-stays in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas because of escalating violence.

Spain’s Air Europa is one of the few remaining European carriers that operate to Caracas where the crew stays overnight.

The SkyTeam member uses Airbus A330s on the route.

SEPLA said the current situation “puts at risk the security and the physical integrity of the crews that have to move from the airport to the hotel where they are staying.”

For this reason, the labor union is requiring Air Europa “to assess the situation and establish measures such as cancellation of flights or other alternatives that guarantee the safety of the crew.”

SEPLA’s Air Europa pilots recommend alternative measures to avoid having to stay overnight in Venezuela, such as transferring to other destinations in the Caribbean, an area where Air Europa operates multiple frequencies.

SEPLA said these measures have already been adopted by practically all European carriers, such as Iberia, which takes its crew to Santo Domingo for overnight stops after landing in Caracas.

Air Europa pilots fear the situation in Venezuela may degenerate into a war-like conflict with airspace closure, which would make it impossible to leave the country in a crisis situation.

On June 5, IATA said Venezuela is nearing a point where air links with the rest of the world will be largely cut off, as the country is in “severe” crisis marked by widespread civil unrest.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at