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Sun, Aug 28, 2005

France, Belgium Join UK In Banned Airlines Program

Blacklisted!

Responding to increased pressure from the governing body of the European Union after deadly air crashes in Greece and Venezuela, EU members France and Belgium announced plans to create "blacklists" of risky air carriers flying throughout Europe. The lists, to be published next week, would be the first step towards banning listed carriers from operating in those countries.

The European Commission first called for the creation of such lists in early 2004, after a B737 flown by Flash Airlines crashed after takeoff from the Egyptian tourist destination of Sharm el Sheikh. Almost all of the 148 people killed in that crash were French tourists.

England was the first country to adopt such a list, banning airlines from Tajikistan, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo from operating in Britain. The Brits claim that airlines from those countries fail to meet the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO.)

The European Commission is pressing all its member states to create their own lists of carriers that have been banned or restricted from operating in their countries. Each would then be consolidated into one standard list, so that "information on the situation in all the member states is available to the public and allowing the extension of a ban to the whole EU," according to transport commissioner Jacques Barrot.

The European Commission wants to have the consolidated list available on the Internet by the beginning of 2006. Mr. Barrot is also calling for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to take more responsibility for control over the safety certification process, as it is currently split between national and European bodies.

Some industry experts doubt the effectiveness of such lists, particularly when dealing with carriers from third-world countries. Those experts also question what criteria will be used to decide which airlines should be banned. The EC has offered to provide guidelines for that decision to their member states.

Some European countries, such as Italy, have indicated they may oppose pan-European rules of this kind.

FMI: www.europa.eu.int/index_en.htm

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