he article by Dermot Scully about the third package and increased access within the European Economic Area (Airline Business, January 1996) neglected an important aspect of the new situation.

It is all very well to encourage companies to obtain operating licences in whichever country has the slackest regulations. What he doesn't say is that many of these rules were drafted for very good reasons of flight safety and basic fairness. If airlines are encouraged to set up as flags of convenience in whichever state has the most loosely enforced regulations, airlines will come under financial pressure to register where the authorities are least able to regulate a satisfactory, safe operation.

Of particular concern is the practice of registering aircraft away from the country out of which they will be operated. How can authorities guarantee standards and carry out safety checks when the aircraft rarely visits that country?

The parallels with the shipping industry are clear. As I write a tanker spews oil along the British coastline. It was registered, owned, operated and crewed from four different nations, but all with one factor in common. While eager to share in the profits of shipping, none seem keen to accept responsibility.

We must be careful if we are to allow all the 'heavy handed regulations' to be swept away under the guise of liberalisation. Unless the spirit of the third package is upheld, we risk a shipping-style free for all with disastrous results for employment and safety. The long-term results may prove expensive for Europe's airlines and their passengers.

Richard Mann

Independent Pilots Association

Haywards Heath, UK.

Source: Airline Business