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Alitalia restarts Venezuela flights after hiatus due to forex dispute

CARACAS (Reuters) - Italian airline Alitalia has started to fly to Venezuela again after a near two-month halt when carriers trimmed operations following government delays in releasing ticket revenue under the country's strict currency controls.

Several carriers have cut or curbed flights to Venezuela in recent months because they are required to sell tickets in the local bolivar currency but the cash-strapped government has not granted them approval to repatriate that revenue.

"Representatives of Alitalia have ratified their faith in Venezuela and are restarting their operations," Water and Air Transportation Minister Luis Graterol was quoted as saying by the official state news agency AVN on Tuesday.

Alitalia did not provide reasons for suspending or resuming service.

The airline will offer two flights per week between Caracas and Rome. It had run five per week until May, when it reduced the frequency to two.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents around 240 global airlines, said in July that while Venezuela had permitted repatriation of $424 million shared among some airlines, $4.1 billion of airline ticket sales remained trapped in the country.

(Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Editing by Richard Chang)

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