GLOBAL ECONOMY

Venezuelan Airport Now Charges Passengers For The Air They Breathe

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 27:   Commuters lie on the carousel as they await delayed flights in T2 due to a power outage at Sydney Domestic Airport on June 27, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Domestic passengers have been informed they will not be able to check in or board flights until power has been restored.  (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 27: Commuters lie on the carousel as they await delayed flights in T2 due to a power outage at Sydney Domestic Airport on June 27, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Domestic passengers have been informed they will not be able to check in or board flights until power has been restored. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

Travelers who use the Maiquetía International Airport in Caracas and are paying attention may be quite surprised to see that, in Nicolas’ Maduro Venezuela, breathing comes with a cost.

Starting July 1, every passenger departing Maiquetía has to pay 127 bolivares (somewhere between $2 and $20, depending on the exchange rate used) during check-in, in order to pay for the air conditioner that now flows out of the airport’s ducts.

In a press release, the Maiquetia Airport said the project was put in place to ensure the quality of oxygen and keep the premises free of pathogens.

Some 30,000 passengers use the facility every day, according to El Nacional newspaper.

The new tax has generated all kinds of reactions in the Latin American country, mostly outrage, as the new fee must be added to the already exorbitant airline tickets.

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Most international airlines have ceased operations in the country and the reduced number of flights has sent ticket prices to the moon: such is the crisis that a Caracas-Miami ticket these days can cost close to $4,000.

"We are on the path to getting Venezuela isolated and to having to do as Cubans do, who throw themselves to the sharks to be able to get other countries,” said Ibrahín Rojas, a Venezuelan citizen, to Spanish daily ABC, while trying to buy flights to Miami.

At the center of the problem is that foreign airlines are no longer allowed to send back their profits.

According to International Air Transport Association, foreign carriers are owed $4 billion from their Venezuela sales.

A couple of weeks ago, United Airlines became the latest to announce it will reduce flights to Venezuela. American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and several foreign airlines have previously announced cutbacks.

American Airlines now has 10 weekly flights to Venezuela, down from 48 last month.

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