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Copa Air Cuts Venezuela Flights to Reduce Bolivar Risk

Panama’s Copa Airlines will cut routes to Venezuela starting this month as it struggles to repatriate funds trapped in the South American nation.

The Panama City-based airline, which has routes connecting the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America, said its owed $488 million by the Venezuela government, valued at the official bolivar rate of 6.29 per dollar. It didn’t give details on how many flights would be affected.

“We’re reducing the amount of bolivars that we’re going to be accumulating to a point that is totally manageable,” Copa’s Chief Executive Officer Pedro Heilbron said on a conference call today. “We’ll only have to worry about the old stuff.”

Copa is the latest carrier to cut flights to Venezuela as a pledge by the government to pay almost $3.9 billion to airlines with bolivars trapped in the country has failed to materialize. At least 11 other airlines have reduced Venezuelan flights in the past year as currency controls make it difficult to expatriate local earnings, according to International Air Transport Association.

Copa Holdings SA, the parent of Copa Airlines, rose to $140.76 at 12:20 p.m. in New York stock exchange composite trading.

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