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Air Canada suspends ticket sales in Venezuela

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Air Canada suspended ticket sales in Venezuela on Friday, adding to a rising number of airlines protesting a government devaluation of the local currency just for travellers.

Flights are taking off and landing on schedule, but "ticket sales have been temporarily suspended" in Venezuela, Air Canada said in a Twitter message.

The decision only affects flights paid for in bolivars. Travellers can still book flights online and pay in dollars or other foreign currencies.

It comes after a dispute arose between Caracas and foreign airlines over a policy requiring flights to be paid for in bolivars, which the state then exchanges for dollars.

The official exchange rate is 6.3 bolivars per dollar.

But on Wednesday the government announced it would bump it to 11.30 bolivars per dollar, which effectively devaluated the bolivar but only in the tourism sector.

The airlines say this has cut their local revenues in half and claim Caracas now owes them three billion dollars.

Ecuadoran airline Tame was first to suspend its flights to Caracas on Wednesday, after Venezuela's central bank defaulted on payments.

Local media said Panama's Copa Airlines, Portugal's TAP, Air France, Air Europa, Avianca and Aerolineas Argentinas are also refusing payments in bolivars.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140124/air-canada-suspends-ticket-sales-venezuela