Name them and shame them: unsafe airlines

25th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 25 (AFP) - Acting in response to a series of civil aviation disasters this month, France will next week begin publishing a list of airlines banned in its airspace for safety reasons, officials said Thursday.

PARIS, Aug 25 (AFP) - Acting in response to a series of civil aviation disasters this month, France will next week begin publishing a list of airlines banned in its airspace for safety reasons, officials said Thursday.

The country's civil aviation authority, DGAC, meanwhile revealed for the first time the names of the four airlines that are currently banned from French airpsace: Air Koryo from North Korea, Air Saint-Thomas from the United States, International Air Service from Liberia and Air Mozambique.

Measures announced Thursday followed a string of fatal accidents this month, the latest of which left 40 people dead on Tuesday when a Tans Peru Boeing 737-200 crashed while making an emergency landing in a storm at a regional Peruvian airport.

Fatal crashes have also occurred this month in Venezuela, near Athens in Greece and off the coast of Sicily, Italy. An Air France jet slid off the runway at Toronto's international airport, although all aboard managed to escape alive.

French Transport Minister Dominique Perben said that beginning Monday a list of both banned and authorised companies would appear on the DGAC website "in a way that is totally transparent".

The initiative brings France into line with Britain, Switzerland and the United States, where authorities have either designated banned airlines or named countries where civil aviation regulations are deemed to be inadequate.

Perben added that checks would also be stepped up on aircraft making stopovers in French airports and on airlines applying for French landing rights.

He promised to increase the number of DGAC safety inspectors "very quickly" to 25, saying unannounced inspections of airlines would increase to 2,000 this year from 1,600 in 2004.

France will also implement legislation before the end of the year to enable passengers taking charter or tour group flights from France to know on which carrier they will be travelling.

This measure is required by European Union law after legislation was passed by European lawmakers in response to the crash of a Flash Airlines flight in the Red Sea in January 2004.

A total of 134 French tourists were killed in the accident, many of whom were not aware they were flying with Flash, which had been banned in Swiss airspace because of safety concerns.

The new name-and-shame policy precedes the second part of European legislation introduced in the aftermath of the Flash disaster.

A proposal from the European Commission to publish a list of suspect airlines, pooling safety information from all 25 member states, is set to be voted on by the European parliament this autumn.

If approved, it would enter into force at the end of this year or early 2006, EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot has said.

France's transport ministry had initially been looking at starting a "blue label" system early next year to endorse airlines with proven safety records.

The vice-president at Air France of the international airline pilot association, ALPA, said Thursday the list was "a good thing" but "insufficient".

"The French authorities have neither the resources nor the logistical requirements to check that every company that lands on French soil respects European regulations," Philippe Raffin said on French radio station France Inter.

He reminded listeners, however, that air transport "remains the safest form of transport, even safer than travelling by road".

Britain has also embraced the idea of naming and shaming unsafe airlines, and EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said last week the scheme may be expanded EU-wide.

France's transport ministry had initially been looking at starting a 'blue label' system early next year to endorse airlines with proven safety records.

Perben's announcement Thursday that France would instead blacklist airlines came a day after President Jacques Chirac travelled to Martinique to attend a sombre memorial service for the victims of the Venezuela plane crash.

French accident officials are analysing the "black box" recorders from the crashed Colombian plane, which resulted in the worst loss of French life in any aviation disaster.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, airline safety, crash, Dominique Perben, blue list, Jacques Barrot, DGAC, Air Koryo, Air Saint-Thomas, International Air Service, Air Mozambique

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