Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

GERMAN TRANSPORT minister Matthias Wissman is pushing for the introduction of a European "black list" of airlines which have questionable safety standards.

Airlines on the list would be banned from operating in the European market. If the proposal does not get backing from other European Union (EU) member states, Germany could pursue it independently, says Wissman.

The transport ministry points out that the USA already has such a black list policy, although this is aimed at countries, rather than specific airlines.

The proposal was revealed, at a European transport ministers meeting in Brussels, where participants agreed on a German initiative to form an expert panel, including European Commission representatives, to improve air safety. The panel could put forward its first safety proposals as early as the next ministers' meeting, due to be held in June.

"We cannot drive the liberalisation of air transport along and, at the same time, leave safety regulations unchanged," says Wissman.

Plans could also include a "stamp of quality" for airlines, to allow travelers to make informed decisions when booking flights. Wissman recommends setting up a European air-safety organisation and applying common safety standards in all European member states, as well as closer co-operation between the EU and European air-traffic-control organisation Eurocontrol.

The minister says that his proposals already have strong support from eight EU member states, including Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Wissman's safety drive is thought to have been motivated by the 6 February crash of a Birgenair Boeing 757-200 in the Caribbean, in which 189 people died, mostly German holidaymakers. The incident has made air safety, particularly among small charter-carriers, a key topic in Germany.

Source: Flight International