Europe adds more than 80 airlines to aviation safety 'blacklist'

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By David Kaminski-Morrow in London

European Commission regulators have added more than 80 carriers to the ‘blacklist’ of airlines facing operating restrictions within Europe, although only three of these are from regions outside of the blanket ban on five African states.

Eighty-one of the additional carriers are licensed in these five states. The list includes 26 more operators in Equatorial Guinea, 19 in Liberia, 13 in each of Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and ten in Swaziland.

Inspectors have decided, however, that carriers in Mauritania will not be subject to an overall operating ban.

The remaining three airlines, located in other areas, have been included as part of the first quarterly update since the list was drawn up earlier this year.

Sky Gate International has been included on the list after the UK government refused a permit for the carrier’s operations, citing doubts about the company’s principal place of business. The Lockheed L-1011 operator has connections with Jordan but a number of aircraft registered in Kyrgyzstan.

Suriname-based Blue Wing Airlines, an Antonov An-28 operator located in Paramaribo, also features on the blacklist following a notification from France.

Both are subject to a European-wide operating ban. Restrictions have also been placed on a third carrier, Sudanese company Air West, whose entire fleet has been banned with the exception of a single Ilyushin Il-76. Air West has Boeing 737-200s and a handful of Soviet-era regional types.

One company, Libyan operator Buraq Air, has been withdrawn from the blacklist because it no longer conducts the cargo activity which led to its original inclusion.

In a statement the EC claims the initiative is already generating positive results, saying: “The list has proved to be an effective incentive, with a number of countries and companies that had taken either no action, or only inadequate action, in response to national bans agreeing to co-operate with the Commission in correcting the security problems identified.”

Almost 180 operators feature on the blacklist following the update. While the prohibition area presently covers only the 25 members of the European Union, the European Civil Aviation Conference has proposed extending this boundary to include all other European states.