American Airlines Cancels Flights to Haiti Amid Protests Over Fuel Prices

The Haitian government suspended the fuel price hike Saturday

070718 Haiti Protest Fire

American Airlines canceled seven flights to Haiti Saturday, following riots over a raise in fuel prices in the country, an airline spokesperson says.

The Fort Worth-based airline confirmed that it canceled six flights to Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, and one to the northern city of Cap-Haitien.

The Haitian government suspended the fuel price hike Saturday after widespread violence broke out in two of the country's major cities.

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Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant had originally said the country needed to raise prices to balance the budget and gave no indication he would back down.

But his administration bowed to pressure after demonstrators took to the streets in protest.

No injuries or deaths were reported during the day's incidents, but at least three people were killed Friday as protesters used burning tires and barricades to block major streets. At one point they attempted to set a gas station on fire but were held off by police.

The U.S. State Department warned people against traveling to Haiti and wrote in a tweet that personnel at the U.S. Embassy there had sheltered in place.

The demonstrations began after the Commerce Ministry and Economic Ministry issued a joint statement announcing an increase of 38 percent to 51 percent for gasoline, diesel and kerosene.

Government officials agreed to reduce subsidies for fuel in February as part of an assistance package with the International Monetary Fund. The agreement also included increased spending on social services and infrastructure and improved tax collection in an effort to modernize the economy of one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere.

American Airlines said in a statement that it would reevaluate the situation and its flight schedule Sunday morning.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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