Tuesday, August 30, 2005

France and Belgium have published separate blacklists of airlines banned from their territory on safety grounds

Banned airlines lists published
France and Belgium have published separate blacklists of airlines banned from their territory on safety grounds.

The lists were posted on the websites of the French civil aviation authority (DGAC) and Belgium's Transport Ministry on Monday.

Switzerland has also promised to provide its own list on Thursday.

The moves follow a plane crash in Venezuela on 16 August, in which 152 French passengers died on their way home to the island of Martinique.

Meanwhile on Saturday, at a meeting of the European Civil Aviation Conference in Bucharest, experts called for a Europe-wide definition of common criteria for blacklists.

The European Commission reached a deal in February to allow the creation of EU-wide blacklists of unsafe airlines by the end of the year.

But correspondents say it is unclear whether agreement on the blacklists is possible, with Italy calling for just a list of safe companies.

Charter transparency

The two countries' lists were mutually exclusive, though several names of airlines coincided with those on a list published in the UK.

French list
Air Koryo, North Korea
Air Saint-Thomas, US Virgin Islands
International Air Service, Liberia
Air Mozambique (LAM), including its subsidiary Transairways
Phuket Airlines, Thailand
Belgian list
Africa Lines, Central African Republic
Air Memphis, Egypt
Air Van Airlines, Armenia
Central Air Express, Democratic Republic of Congo
International Air Tours Ltd., Nigeria
Johnsons Air Ltd., Ghana
Silverback Cargo Freighters, Rwanda
South Airlines, Ukraine

In addition to the list of banned airlines, the DGAC site also published a list of authorised companies including charter airlines.

French Transport Minister Dominique Perben said last week that by the end of the year passengers taking charter or tour group flights would have the right to be told which company was operating the flight.

Checks on aircraft making stopovers at French airports will also be stepped up.

Switzerland has already revealed the names of some banned airlines, but said it would publish a full list on 1 September.

Passenger revolt

On Wednesday night, 235 passengers of a Tunisian charter plane flying from Paris to the Tunisian island of Djerba refused to re-board a plane which was forced to return to Orly airport for checks shortly after take-off.

That incident came a week after the Venezuela crash, which involved a Colombian-owned plane.

August 2005 has been marked by a string of major plane disasters.

In less then two weeks, three planes have crashed in Greece, Venezuela and Peru - all three of them operated by minor airlines.

More than 300 people have lost their lives in the three accidents.

The issue of blacklisting came to prominence when 148 people - most of them French - died in January 2004 in a crash involving an airline which had been banned from Swiss airspace, a fact which the passengers had no way of knowing.

Story from BBC NEWS: