The International Air Transport Association has kicked out six member airlines for failing to meet a 31 December 2006 deadline to contract for an IATA operational safety audit (IOSA), now a condition for membership, writes Brendan Sobie.

Although the IOSA programme was launched in 2003, IATA says 117 of its 250 members have still not been audited. It is a year since a safety audit was made a condition of membership. IATA says 111 of the unaudited carriers have contracted with one of the seven organisations licensed by IATA to carry out the audits. The six who have not were sent termination letters by director general Giovanni Bisignani in the second week of January.

Bisignani says these six are "very small airlines you've probably never heard of". He says one of the carriers is from Latin America and "a couple" are from Asia and Russia.

He says IATA is "concerned" about having lost members and potentially losing more unless they pass the audit by the end-2008 deadline. "Our goal is not to eliminate members, but to raise the safety bar," says Bisignani. About 100 member and 30 non-member airlines have already passed, and 33 member carriers are still awaiting audit results.

IATA requires all audits to have been carried out by the end of 2007, and a year later all remedial actions must be completed. "Some will have problems passing the audit," Bisignani acknowledges, but he suggests that the existence of the IOSA requirement may prompt carriers to improve their safety standards, making a pass more likely. IATA has set aside $3 million for its "partnership for safety" programme, which is helping members from developing countries improve their safety standards and pass the audit. Half of these funds will be spent in 2007.

Source: Flight International