Feds fine Panama’s Copa for flights between US, Venezuela

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Department said Wednesday that it fined Panama-based Copa Airlines $450,000 for operating flights between the United States and Venezuela after the Trump administration banned service between the countries.

Half of the civil penalty will be dropped if Copa pays $225,000 and avoids violating the ban for one year.

The department said that in the weeks after the May 2019 ban took effect, Copa carried more than 15,000 passengers between the two countries using stopover points.

Copa said the violations were not intentional, and it noted that the Transportation Department order didn’t list Copa as an airline serving Venezuela.

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In a consent order, the airline said it understands the seriousness of the matter and has taken steps to avoid future violations.

The administration banned air links with Venezuela over security concerns amid a political crisis in the South American nation. Many airlines had already stopped flying there because of concern over the safety of crew members.

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