The European Union has banned all airlines from Sudan and the Philippines from its airspace as part of an effort to improve safety standards in member states.
The decision follows consultation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and sees the total number of countries on the blacklist rise to 17.
European Union Commission vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport, said: “Safety comes first. We are ready to support countries that need to build up technical and administrative capacity to guarantee the necessary standards in civil aviation.
“But we cannot accept that airlines fly into the EU if they do not fully comply with international safety standards.”
Poor safety performance
Outlining the reasoning behind the decision, the EU explained an operating ban had been placed on all operations of Sudanese air carriers due to the poor safety performance of the civil aviation authority in the country and resultant persistent non-compliance with international standards.
With regard to the Philippines, the Commission acknowledged recent efforts by authorities to reform the civil aviation system and steps taken to address safety deficiencies reported by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and ICAO
In particular measures taken by two carriers – Philippines Airlines and Cebu Airlines – to ensure safety of operations were noted, with the EU ready to support the Philippines in overcoming serious safety deficiencies.
However, in view of the significant safety concerns identified by the ICAO in relation to the authorities, the Commission - with the unanimous support of the Air Safety Committee - followed the principle of precaution and imposed an operating ban on all air carriers licensed in the Philippines.
In a statement Philippines Airlines (PAL) said: “Despite the unfortunate inclusion of PAL and all other local carriers in the EU blacklist – which is a direct consequence of the downgrade of the Philippine government’s aviation safety rating – PAL would like to assure the riding public safety remains the bedrock of its operations.
“It has always been the flag-carrier’s policy to ensure that its passengers fly with the full assurance of safety and comfort.”
With the latest update – the thirtieth such briefing from the EU - Air Koryo (licensed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), which has been subject to an operating ban since March 2006, is allowed to resume operations into the EU.
Two aircraft, both of which are fitted with the necessary equipment to comply with mandatory international standards, will be allowed to fly following appropriate oversight by the national authority.
The rest of its fleet remains barred from operating into the EU.
The Commission also acknowledged improvements in the operations of TAAG Angola Airlines, subsequently allowing the air carrier to operate under certain strict conditions with specific aircraft to all destinations in the EU.
The carrier had previously been allowed to operate departures to Lisbon only.
In total airlines from 17 countries – 278 companies in total – are now banned from European airspace, including; Angola, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, (with the exception of three carriers which operate under restrictions and conditions), Indonesia, Kazakhstan (one exception), the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Philippines, Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Swaziland and Zambia.
However, ten air carriers are now allowed to operate under restrictions and conditions: Air Koryo from the Democratic People Republic of Korea, TAAG Angola Airlines, Air Astana from Kazakhstan, Iran Air from Iran Gabon Airlines, Afrijet and SN2AG from Gabon, Air Bangladesh, Air Service Comores and Ukrainian Mediterranean Airlines from Ukraine.