The Transportation Department has fined Copa Airlines $450,000 for violating a federal prohibition on air service between the U.S. and Venezuela that went into effect last May.

The Panama-based airline sold more than 5,000 one-stop itineraries between the U.S. and Venezuela and transported more than 15,000 passengers between the countries for nearly a month after the prohibition took effect on May 15, 2019, according to a DOT consent order.

The DOT imposed the prohibition on Venezuela service amid political instability in the South American nation between the government of Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido. The U.S. backs Guaido and has denounced Maduro’s rule as illegitimate. At the time that the prohibition was put into effect, then acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan concluded that conditions in Venezuela threatened the safety and security of passenger, aircraft and crew. 

In a statement, Copa said that the $450,000 fine reflects a settlement with the DOT. 

“Today’s order states the company’s position that any violation of the restrictions that may have occurred would not have been willful,” Copa said. “The company noted that it relied in part on its contacts with Panamanian and other U.S. officials to understand the restrictions.

“Copa Airlines understands the seriousness of the matter, cooperated fully with DOT in the investigation, and has taken considerable and substantive steps to avoid future violations.”

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