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EU to Publish List of Unsafe Airlines

The European Union last month received permission from air safety officials to publish a blacklist of unsafe airlines. The list will include companies restricted or suspended from operating their planes to, from or over Europe.

Currently, countries within the EU decide individually which airlines to ban, but observers say this creates confusion, especially when one country bans an airline and another does not.

In addition, some banned airlines complain that they never had a crash, and demand to know what criteria were used to declare them unsafe.

The EU transport spokesman, Stephaan De Rynck, says the “incoherence” of country-by-country rules was highlighted in May by a Turkish airline that was banned from four European countries but simply started flying to Belgium, which had not banned it.

Another example quoted was where France and Belgium – the two countries that led the move to ban unsafe airline – do not ban all the same airlines. Between the two countries, a total of 15 airlines have been banned.

And Italy, which has objected to a country-by-country blacklist, suspended the flight privileges of a Tunisian airline whose turboprop plane ran out of fuel on Aug. 16 and crashed into the sea off Sicily, killing 16 people. Mr. De Rynck says that decisions taken by European countries to publish their own lists was “a step in the right direction” but that an EU-wide approach was needed to avoid an “inco-herent” approach.

Roberto Salvarani, head of the European Commission air safety unit, says “there is consensus toward establishing a list of companies that are restricted or suspended from operating their aircraft to, from or over Europe.”

The group was pushed into action by uncoordinated country-by-country actions in the wake of a rash of crashes in the last month.

The EU transport spokesman, Stephaan De Rynck, reminds, however, “we are operating in a very safe environment, but of course the tragic accidents we have had have to give us a push to improve safety standards even further.”

The United States, which years ago led the move to regulate aviation safety worldwide, decided to avoid taking action against individual airlines. Instead, the country has a scoring system for individual countries, based on whether they have an effective government agency to regulate aviation safety.

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