Venezuelan FM was onboard ‘mystery’ aircraft, says civil aviation authority


Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was onboard the government plane that landed at Athens International Airport on Saturday, the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Tuesday.

The statement came after broadcaster Skai TV reported that a Venezuelan aircraft had landed at the airport under secrecy and remained in Athens for four hours before flying off. It also said that other EU countries had refused to let the plane land.

CAA said it was an “ordinary flight” that travelled through Greek airspace according to its submitted flight plan.

The flight plan showed it left Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates at 7.30 a.m. (Greek time) and landed in Athens at 13.59 p.m. (Greek time), after flying over Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

While waiting for the plane to refuel, Arreaza waited in the VIP lounge, following a relevant request from the Venezuelan embassy, CAA said. He did not meet with anyone while he was there.

The Venezuelan aircraft took off at 17.47 p.m. local, heading to Cape Verde, according to the official flight plan.

Diplomatic sources from the Greek foreign ministry confirmed that the plane landed in Athens to refuel and that no state official met with Arreaza.

Earlier in the day, New Democracy spokesperson Maria Spyraki demanded that the government explain why the flight was given permission to land in Athens when other European Union countries had refused.

She also asked if the government was aware that Venezuela’s main opposition party has accused Nicolas Maduro’s regime of using the particular airplane to illegally fly money, gold and relatives of senior officials out of the country.