The Venezuelan government has banned TAP Air Portugal (TP, Lisbon) from running its 2x weekly Lisbon-Caracas Simón Bolivar route for 90 days, effective immediately.

Minister of Transportation Hipólito Abreu said in a statement that he had taken the decision due to "the serious irregularities committed on flight TP173". Juan Guaidó, the partially recognised president of Venezuela, flew back into the country on February 17 on the flight using the false name of 'Antonio Márquez'.

The Lusa news agency said Juan Márquez, Guaidó's uncle, was arrested after accompanying his nephew on the flight and was charged with allegedly carrying concealed explosive materials.

TAP has since condemned Venezuela's sanction claiming it did not "understand" why it had been targetted since it meets all the legal and safety requirements laid down by authorities in both Portugal and Venezuela. It also decried the fact that it had not been able to appeal the Venezuelan government's decision.

Given security concerns, TAP does not operate the route itself preferring instead to use B767-300(ER) equipment wet-leased from euroAtlantic Airways (YU, Lisbon).