By Irene Revilla.
Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.
Five flights have arrived since Friday, February 12, at the Josefa Camejo International Airport, in the Paraguana Peninsula, with gasoline-manufacturing chemicals, airport workers told El Pitazo.
And each plane brings enough sacks of material to fill up to three waiting trucks, the sources reported. There will be 20 such flights, workers added.
The US sanctioned airline Conviasa has been flying between Iran and Venezuela (sometimes arriving at the Las Piedras airport, sometimes in Maiquetia, near Caracas) since at least 2020. But the air bridge has intensified since last week with daily flights, according to reports.
The airport workers said the product is transferred to trucks and then mobilized to the Paraguana Refinery Complex (CRP in Spanish).
Venezuela stopped producing gasoline a year ago, and the Maduro regime, with help from Iran, has been trying to reactivate the manufacturing of the fuel, so far without success. Maduro has to import gasoline from Iran, becoming the first country ever in the Western Hemisphere to make it.
Quds-corps-linked Mahan Air flew 16 times into Venezuela last year with the excuse of bringing spare parts, chemicals, and refining experts for the endeavor, according to a tally kept by El Pitazo. Airport workers told El Pitazo that the Conviasa plane arrives early in the day and leaves at night. So far, there have been three planes that have made the flights.
Six people arrive on each flight: two pilots, a machinery expert, and two representatives of the Islamic Republic, who are received with the biosecurity protocols against COVID-19, and a translator.
Sunday’s flight was delayed for two hours due to engine problems; since then, an expert airline worker arrived from Caracas to attend to any eventuality.
The catalyst gets unloaded in white sacks, which get taken in trucks to the Cardon refinery. Different quantities arrive on each flight, depending on the size, although the amount fills from one to three trucks.
The five flights are part of 20 made from the Islamic Republic of Iran to bring the catalyst, a component of the gasoline produced at the Cardon refinery. As of this writing, there has been no official statement from the regional government.