Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EU Bans Airlines From Philippines, Sudan on Safety

The European Union prohibited all airlines based in the Philippines and Sudan from flying in the bloc under the latest changes to a list of unsafe carriers. The EU said “serious safety deficiencies” in the Philippines’ regulation of carriers and a “poor safety performance” by aviation authorities in Sudan justify the operating bans.

The European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s executive arm, cited assessments by the International Civil Aviation Organization. “We cannot accept that airlines fly into the EU if they do not fully comply with international safety standards,” EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement today in Brussels.

The EU also restricted the operations of Iran Air, eased curbs on TAAG Angola Airlines by letting it fly to all EU destinations under “strict conditions” rather than only to Lisbon, and permitted North Korea’s Air Koryo -- on the list since 2006 -- to operate in the bloc with two approved aircraft.

This is the 13th update of a blacklist first drawn up by the commission in March 2006 with more than 90 airlines mainly from Africa. The ban already covers carriers from nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Indonesia, Liberia and Rwanda. Airline crashes in 2004 and 2005 that killed hundreds of European travelers prompted EU governments to seek a uniform approach to airline safety through a common blacklist.

The list, updated at least four times a year, is based on deficiencies found during checks at European airports, the use of antiquated aircraft by companies and shortcomings by non-EU airline regulators. Poor Safety Records In addition to imposing an operational ban in Europe, the blacklist can act as a guide for travelers worldwide and influence safety policies in non-EU countries.

Nations that are home to carriers with poor safety records can ground them to avoid being put on the EU list, while countries keen to keep out unsafe foreign airlines can use the European list as a guide for their own bans.

The new measures affect about 40 carriers in the Philippines including Philippine Airlines Inc. and Cebu Air Inc. and 12 in Sudan, Helen Kearns, transport spokeswoman at the commission, told reporters. None of those carriers currently operates services to the EU, she said later by telephone.

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