EC sees blacklist progress as PIA restrictions lifted

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Previously imposed operating restrictions on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been lifted under the latest revision of the European Commission’s list of airlines banned from operating in the European Union.

The revision also sees the ban lifted on Surinam carrier Blue Wing Airlines.

While the EC notes progress undertaken at currently banned operators TAAG Angola Airlines, Iranian carrier Mahan Air and Ukrainian-Mediterranean Airlines, it says it would be “premature” to withdraw these carriers from the list.

EC transport commissioner Jacques Barrot says: “This latest revision shows that when airlines take rapid and sound corrective action to comply with safety standards, they can be withdrawn from the list quickly. It also shows that the list increasingly serves as a pre-emptive rather than punitive tool for safeguarding aviation safety.

“There are now numerous instances where the Community has successfully addressed potential safety threats with third countries and airlines in advance and before it is forced to take the drastic measure of imposing restrictions."

Blue Wing Airlines was named on the EU blacklist in June 2006 while PIA was partially banned in March this year when the EC restricted it only using its Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 fleet to serve European destinations. The carrier was subsequently cleared to operate three of its Boeing 747-300s, two 747-200s and six of the carrier’s Airbus A310-300s when the list was revised in June.

“Blue Wing Airlines and PIA have successfully completed the implementation of a corrective action plan following their inclusion in the list,” the EC says today. “Their oversight authorities have produced evidence that they verified the measures taken by the airlines and that these measures provide for long-lasting sustainable solutions to avoid the same problems recurring in the future.”

The EC says the latest revision highlights the “continuous dialogue” with certain states over the safety of their air carriers. “In this respect, following evidence of improvements in safety standards, the EC will monitor closely and verify various Russian air carriers on which the Russian authorities have imposed operating restrictions.”

Russia in June banned a number of Russian carriers from operating to the EU – and imposed operating restrictions on some others - following discussions with the EC on the safety of these carriers. It followed similar restrictions Russia placed on nine carriers earlier this year.

“Furthermore, this update acknowledges the efforts made by the civil aviation authorities of Indonesia, Iran, Ukraine and Angola to enhance the exercise of their oversight responsibilities with a view to improving safety and cooperate closely to that end with the EC.”

It points to “clear progress” at TAAG, Mahan Air and Ukrainian Mediterranean Airlines – the former banned in June, the latter two since September - in addressing the root causes of their safety deficiencies. “However, given that in these cases there are still significant safety deficiencies which have yet to be addressed, the EC considered with the unanimous support of the Air Safety Committee that a decision to withdraw these airlines from the Community list would, at this stage, be premature,” it says.

Following the revision of the list all operators from Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of Congo (with the exception of Hewa Bora Airways), are fully banned from operations in the EU, along with eight individual carriers. A further three airlines, including Hewa Bora, are subject to restrictions on operating specific aircraft.