The Venezuelan aviation scene during the 1950s was dominated by two airlines L.A.V and AVENSA. The former operated international services whilst AVENSA primarily had a domestic network. AVENSA started to operate its own international route network using a CV-440 for a route to Miami from 1954 and New Orleans from 1955. It acquired a pair of Pan Am DC-6s in June 1958 and these would form part of the initial fleet of Venezolana Internacional de Aviación Sociedad Anónima (VIASA) when it was formed on November 21, 1960. The new carrier merged the international operations of L.A.V and AVENSA with a 55:45% ratio of joint ownership and $3 million in capital.
VIASA also inherited an order for Convair 880s and in February 1961 the carrier signed an agreement with the Dutch flag carrier KLM, which would serve it well over the coming decades. KLM would act as a general agent in Europe and also provide technical support, which would go so far as the wet lease of equipment and sharing routes. The first CV-880s began to join the fleet on August 8, 1961 with three eventually taken on. From Caracas these aircraft serviced the airlines routes to Maracaibo, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Paramaribo, and Surinam with dual First/Economy Class capacity for 78.
Transatlantic services were flown using KLM DC-8s from April 1, 1961 which operated to Lisbon via Santa Maria in the Azores then onwards to Madrid, paris, London and Amsterdam. The return services stopped at Curacao, Caracas, Lima and Bogota. Unfortunately less than a month after this service began, and only 29 days after it was delivered, DC-8-53 PH-DCL was destroyed when it crashed en-route between Lisbon and Santa Maria. The aircraft plunged into the sea killing all 61 aboard and the investigation was unable to determine the cause of the crash, although there is the possibility that the pilots were decieved by instrument failure.
VIASA also operated KLM's regional Caribbean services during the 1960s, prior to ALM being created and taking the routes over. For these the third CV-880 (YV-C-VIC) flew painted in KLM colours on its port side for almost three years. The route network grew with Mexico City and Madrid via Las Palmas added. In November 1965 VIASA's first owned DC-8 was delivered and this aircraft began service to New York on December 5. The second owned DC-8-54 joined in July 1966 enabling VIASA's first transatlantic services using its own metal on October 6, 1966.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: