An emerging Venezuelan carrier: Turpial Airlines

Turpial Airlines is an emerging airline based in Venezuela founded in 2016. It concentrates its passenger traffic and flight operations from Arturo Michelena International Airport, serving the city of Valencia in Venezuela. Turpial Airlines flies to 9 destinations, 3 of which are international. It has a fleet of 3 Boeing 737-400 aircraft, with an average age of 29 years. Venezuelan carrier Turpial Airlines is certified to launch regular and non-scheduled commercial, cargo, and mail operations at domestic and international routes. The carrier envisages being a leading air transport company within the North and Central American region with the highest degree of operational safety, highest service quality standard, support of state-of-the-art technology, and highly qualified staff to meet customers’ needs. The airline was established to implement reliable, efficient, and timely domestic and foreign air transport service from the home country of Venezuela to any corner of the globe.

Initial operations

The airline obtained its Air Operator Certificate from the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (INAC) in 2017. To obtain AOC, the airline complied with all requirements regarding command and cabin crew, aircraft maintenance, emergency plans on land and in water, service quality manuals, and other administrative formalities. As soon as it obtained its AOC, it commenced its operations to the national routes of Maracaibo and Porlamar from Valencia and the first international destination of Panama City. Panama’s Tocumen International Airport handles more than 10 million passengers to and from the Caribbean, South, North, and Central America.

In 2018, Venezuelan private-entity Turpial Airlines launched two commercial routes connecting Venezuela and Panama to the Dominican Republic through Punta Cana and Las Americas Airport. In April 2019, Turpial added new Valencia routes to Maturin and Puerto Ordaz.

In May 2021, Turpial Airlines resumed its operations on Valencia-Santo Domingo (SDQ) route thrice a week. The airline received its AOC for Foreign Company from Aviation Board (JAC) and began providing flight services from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic through Las Americas International Airport. Starting November 21, the Valencia-based airline inaugurated regular international services between Maracaibo and Santo Domingo (SDQ) with two weekly flights.

Destinations served by Turpial Airlines.

Internationally, Turpial Airlines serves Las American International Airport in the Dominican Republic and Tocumen International Airport in Panama. Similarly, it operates charter flights to Cancun International Airport, Mexico. In terms of domestic operations, the destinations served to include Porlamar, Puerto Ordaz, Santo Domingo, Maturin, Maracaibo, and Valencia.

The fleet of Turpial Airlines

Turpial Airlines operates three Boeing 737-400 aircraft registered YV613T, YV621T, and YV622T. Each aircraft has an equal range of 5000km, a fuel capacity of 2800lts, an autonomy of 5.5 hours, and a cruising speed of 800 km/hour. However, all three aircraft have different seating configurations. One has a seat layout of 12 business class and 132 economy seats. The other two aircraft have 132 and 156 economic seats, respectively.

YV613T registered Boeing 737 first flew with Air Europe between 1990 and 1992, then joined Inter European Airways until 1994. Moving on, the jet flew with Markair, Icelandair, and Virgin America and finally arrived in Venezuela in 2016.

Meanwhile, YV621T previously served Malaysia Airlines, Nok Air, and Batavia Air, while YV622T only flew with Malaysia Airlines.

Highlighting the features of the Boeing 747-400 aircraft, it is a twin-engined short-to-medium range narrowbody airliner powered by 2xCFM56 turbofans. It remains one of the most popular Boeing aircraft types. The 737-400 design was made in 1985 to bridge the gap between Boeing 737-300 and 757-200, featuring an increased capacity and economic size. The first batch of Boeing 737-400 rolled out in January 1988 and entered service in September 1988. The aircraft possesses a tail bumper, strengthened wing spar, and a transcontinental US range to become ideal for group travel over short to medium-haul distances.

Livery of Turpial Airlines

The livery of Turpial Airlines predominantly uses black, white, and yellow, based on the colors of feathers of Venezuela’s national bird, Troupial (Turpial in Spanish), and features the image of the bird on the tail of Boeing 737-400 aircraft. Turpial Airlines got its name from the country’s national bird, and the patterns on the tail are the epitome of Troupial’s feathers.

Services offered

 1. Passenger services

Turpial Airlines strives to provide efficient and reliable passenger services and has opened new commercial offices in the country. Turpial Airlines Customer Care handles passenger queries regarding flight schedules, booking, rescheduling, charter service, flight information, etc.

In addition to regular service, it provides special assistance to children and seniors, unaccompanied minors, and pregnant women. Disabled passengers get a 50% discount on their tickets.

2. Baggage service

The airline allows two carry-on pieces of baggage, each with a maximum weight of eight kilograms. All passengers are entitled to 2 suitcases for checked luggage, each not exceeding 23kg and 158cm (length + width + height).

3. Cargo

Turpial Airlines transports dogs and cats on domestic and international flights on the Valencia-Panama route. The airline also deals with accompanied baggage not exceeding 32 kg and carrying non-dangerous goods. Transportation of perishable cargo and human remains is possible under certain terms and conditions.

4. Demurrage services

For a flight delay time of more than 20 minutes, Turpial Airlines will provide non-alcoholic beverages. Similarly, the flight delay time of 2 hours entails refreshments and non-alcoholic beverages for customers, be it national or international flights. If the flight is delayed by more than 4 hours, the carrier will provide complete meals: breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on the time.

Ticket payment with Bitcoins

In August 2021, Venezuela’s Turpial Airlines introduced Bitcoin as a new payment method in one of its latest moves to cope with local currency hyperinflation, offering more options to travelers. Airlines passengers may pay for their tickets on the website with bitcoin, the world’s most famous cryptocurrency. The South American operator made it easier for customers to acquire tickets with Turpial Airlines via Zelle, Paypal, and now Bitcoin. Passengers can also use a debit or credit card to pursue the conventional payment method. In light of the escalating use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Venezuela, the airline adopted the trend to facilitate its passengers and help them deal with the hyperinflation of local currency.

In the global context, Latvian airline airBaltic was the pioneer airline in the world to introduce a bitcoin payment option for its flights over 60 destinations situated across Europe, the Middle East, and Russia. airBaltic passengers may pay with Bitcoins for flight tickets converted into euros at the current exchange rate. They can use this option when buying the cheapest tickets.

Perks of using bitcoin

By jumping on non-fungible tokens (NFT), Turpial Airlines can adapt to a new reality in blockchain technology and migrate towards digitalization. Bitcoin payment is seamless and uninterrupted, with no interference of transactions from governments or banks. It serves a growing market, taking out third parties with simple peer-to-peer transactions. Likewise, Turpial customers can easily make their way to pay for tickets without the need for a physical wallet or card with them.

Turpial Airlines requires that customers send vouchers with confirmation codes and the account holder’s name to get the ticket via bitcoin payment. Turpial Airlines seeks to be at the forefront of modern aviation technology offering innovative services by being up to date with the latest aviation trends and bringing customer experience to a whole new level.

Other airlines in Venezuela

There are more than 20 airlines that have obtained air operator’s certificates in Venezuela. Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela, the state-owned airline of Venezuela, is the oldest airline (founded in 1929), whereas Ensrasur Cargo is the new start-up cargo airline founded in 2021. In addition to Turpial Airlines, Avior Airlines and Solar Cargo are also based at Arturo Michelena International Airport.

Conviasa is Venezuela’s national and largest airline, founded on March 31, 2004, with its hub at Simon Bolivar International Airport. It flies to an extensive network of more than 30 Caribbean and South American destinations. It was the only airline with a great 2020; its operations jumped 85% that year.

Plans of Turpial Airlines

Venezuelan commercial aviation had illustrious beginnings but later got engulfed in an economic crisis. Before the pandemic wiped out air travel, it had scarce air connectivity with other countries. The hyperinflation and shortages of spare parts slammed Venezuela’s domestic airline industry. Turpial Airlines seeks to be a reliable and efficient airline to provide transportation service from Venezuela to any part of the world as the country continues to struggle with political turmoil and dire financial standings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the country’s descent into economic and political chaos has resulted in the fleeing of many airlines, Turpial Airlines continues to connect Venezuelans with the rest of the country and internationally and intends to increase its fleet size in later years.  

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