CARACAS, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Venezuela's pending dollar disbursements to airlines have fallen to around $3.6 billion after the government released some of the funds held up by the country's currency controls, the International Air Transport Association said on Tuesday.
Airlines have for months struggled to repatriate revenue from ticket sales due to delays in the South American nation's 11-year-old exchange controls, with trapped cash peaking at around $4.1 billion over the summer.
In response, carriers including American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines slashed service over the course of the year.
"As of Nov. 15 ... the total amount of airline money the Venezuela government is withholding is $3.569 billion," IATA's corporate communications manager, Jason Sinclair, wrote in an emailed message, adding that the government has released $775.7 million of airline funds so far this year.
Airlines had been selling tickets in local bolivar currency, but had been unable to obtain dollars through the state currency agency to return the funds to their own headquarters.
"Most of the airlines have reduced considerably the number of tickets they sell in bolivars, essentially preventing more money being held by the Venezuelan government," Sinclair wrote.
The Water and Air Transport Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Leslie Adler)