US officials downgrade Venezuelan aviation safety rating

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – United States (US) authorities downgraded Venezuela’s aviation rating on Friday, saying the crisis-torn nation isn’t able to meet basic international standards for airline safety.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it recently performed an “extensive review” of Venezuela’s civil aviation authority, leading to the status change.

“The Venezuelan regime does not comply” with international standards, the FAA statement said.

Venezuela’s aviation authorities either lack regulations needed to oversee their carriers at a minimum standard or they don’t have adequate expertise, training or inspection procedures, among safety concerns, the FAA stated.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the Trump administration cut diplomatic ties earlier this year after the US backed opposition leader Juan Guaido’s bid launched in January to oust the socialist leader.

Venezuela joins countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica and Ghana to be deemed below international standards. The rating doesn’t automatically ban a nation’s planes from landing in the US, but they are subject to more restrictions.

However, in March, American Airlines announced it was suspending its flights between Miami to Caracas. The airline acted after its pilots’ union told members not to operate flights to Venezuela because of safety concerns. American was the last US airline flying to Venezuela.

At about the same time, the US Transportation Department banned passenger and cargo flights between the two countries, citing unrest and safety concerns.