Association expects to lose 'a few' carriers as time starts to run out for signing up to operational safety audit

Only 3% of the International Air Transport Association's 260 member airlines have not contracted to undergo an IATA operational safety audit (IOSA), but if they have not signed up by 31 December, they will be dismissed from the association.

IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani says he expects to lose "a few" member carriers - 3% suggests about eight airlines - and although he implies that they will mostly be small companies, he does not deny there might be larger airlines that will not meet the deadline.

Beyond that deadline lurks another ejection prospect - 31 December 2007 - by which time all member airlines must have completed the audit, and the end of 2008, by which time any remedial measures required by the auditors must be in place.

A year ago IATA announced that the IOSA, already widely used by the industry, was to become a condition of IATA membership, and now the deadlines for compliance with this diktat are looming. IATA's director of programmes implementation Mike O'Brien points out that, although 2006 looks set to be the safest year ever with a global average rate of 0.65 hull losses per million sectors (at 1 December) and an IATA member carrier hull-loss rate of 0.29 for the same period, the association is determined to "push the safety bar higher".

He warns: "Any airline not contracted [for the IOSA] by 31 December will receive a letter from Giovanni [Bisignani] inviting them to leave the organisation."

Next year IATA is to launch a "continuing monitoring programme" for airlines with current IOSA approval to ensure that during the two-year period between audits, there is no organisational change within the carriers that could invalidate the results.

Source: Flight International