Airlines exiting Venezuela because of World Cup, Maduro says

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By Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - Airlines are halting flights to Venezuela not because of the country's economic problems but to take advantage of the World Cup in neighboring Brazil, the president said on Thursday. Air Canada recently cut flights to Venezuela because of security concerns, Alitalia suspended services due to delays in repatriating revenue under currency controls, and a clutch of other airlines have reduced the frequency of flights. Venezuela owes airlines some $4 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association, because the airlines have to sell tickets in the local bolivar currency but cannot get approval to repatriate the revenue. But Maduro, the socialist successor to the late Hugo Chavez, blasted those factors as smokescreens.