Venezuela is considering investments of up to $300 million for the purchase of long-range aircraft to begin intercontinental flights to "allied" countries like China and Russia, the aquatic and air transport minister told Efe.

Elsa Gutierrez said that after boosting national and regional connections with the purchase of six Brazilian Embraer aircraft at a cost of $270 million, state airline Conviasa is now working on buying aircraft "to serve different international destinations with direct flights."

"When we say Russia and China, we're not talking just about Russia and China and nothing else - we want to be able to offer Venezuelans and businessmen access and connection facilities in a competitive but not an unregulated way," she said in stressing the importance of connecting Caracas with the capitals of those two countries.

For his part, the president of Conviasa, Cesar Martinez, told Efe that the investment being considered by the company for the new purchase "is approximately $300 million."

The acquisition of "between two and four long-range aircraft" will be considered on the basis of price, he said.

Martinez said that being evaluated at the moment is the purchase of the AirBus A330 and A340 models and "aircraft of the (U.S.) Boeing company," always with the requirement of having complete access to spare parts, something the U.S. has made difficult in recent years.

Conviasa is considering making use of routes "related to trade with Venezuela's allies" like Russia and China, Martinez said.

He said, for example, that Venezuela will carry out the large-scale export of orchids to Russia and maintain steady trade with China.

Flights to New York, Miami and Montreal plus "more routes to Europe" are also contemplated in the new plan.

The president of Conviasa said that studies of the new routes will be under evaluation by the end of next year, once the company has the new aircraft in its possession. EFE