Venezuela must play fair and release airlines' money -IATA

Tue Jun 3, 2014 8:28am EDT
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* Venezuelan government described as "wilfully irresponsible"

* Airlines say they are owed more than $4 bln in total

* Venezuela expected to release only $486 mln

DOHA, June 3 (Reuters) - Venezuela is being "wilfully irresponsible" in its treatment of airlines that have more than $4 billion of revenue trapped in the country, a leading industry body said on Tuesday.

President Nicolas Maduro's government requires airlines to sell tickets in the bolivar currency but has been slow to allow them to repatriate the earnings.

The Venezuelan government said last week that it would begin releasing $2.1 billion in hard currency to companies that have struggled to obtain dollars as a result of the controls. The country's top economic official said airlines would receive $486 million of the total earmarked for disbursement.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is holding its annual meeting in Doha this week, said the proposals are unsatisfactory.

"Airlines are being expected to accept a significant discount ... plus payment would be staged over several years," IATA Director General Tony Tyler told the meeting of more than 200 airline executives.

"The Venezuelan government takes the top prize for wilful irresponsibility."   Continued...