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Getting around by air

Venezuela once had a reasonable network of air routes, though due to a chronic lack of spare parts grounding more and more aircraft, routes are generally shrinking, and tickets are becoming ever more scarce. Be aware that several once-useful airports, including those in Mérida and Santa Elena de Uairén, are currently closed.

Maiquetía, where the Caracas airport is located, is the country’s major aviation hub and handles flights to most airports around the country. However, in recent years several major carriers such as Lufthansa, Air Canada and United have canceled services here. Those that still fly to Caracas often have their crew overnight in nearby Colombia due to security concerns.

Cities most frequently serviced from Caracas include Porlamar, Maracaibo and Puerto Ordaz (Ciudad Guayana). The most popular destinations with travelers are El Vigía (for Mérida), Ciudad Bolívar, Canaima, Porlamar and Los Roques.

A number of provincial carriers cover regional and remote routes on a regular or charter basis. Canaima and Los Roques have their own fleets of Cessnas and other smaller planes that fly for a number of smaller airlines. It is best to book these flights through an agent, as they generally aren't bookable from abroad.

Though flights aren't very expensive, they can be unreliable, and delayed flights are extremely common. It's risky to schedule a domestic flight to connect with a same-day international flight. Also be aware that due to frequent overbooking of flights, it's important to check in a minimum of two or even three hours before domestic flights.