Friday, April 06, 2012

Venezuelan Carrier Conviasa Banned by EU in New Blacklist

The European Union banned Venezuelan airline Conviasa from flying in the 27-nation bloc under the latest changes to a list of unsafe carriers.

The EU said “numerous safety concerns” resulting from accidents and European ramp checks justified the prohibition on Venezuela’s state airline.

“Safety comes first,” the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, said in a statement today in Brussels. “We cannot afford any compromise in this area.” The decision is due to be published tomorrow.

This is the 19th update of a blacklist first drawn up by the commission in March 2006 with more than 90 airlines, mainly from Africa. The ban already covers passenger and cargo carriers from nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Liberia, Sudan and the Philippines.

Airline crashes in 2004 and 2005 that killed hundreds of European travelers prompted EU governments to seek a uniform approach to airline safety through a common blacklist. The list, updated at least four times a year, is based on deficiencies found during checks at European airports, the use of antiquated aircraft by companies and shortcomings by non-EU airline regulators.

In addition to imposing an operational ban in Europe, the blacklist can act as a guide for travelers worldwide and influence safety policies in non-EU countries. Nations that are home to carriers with poor safety records can ground them to avoid being put on the EU list, while countries keen to keep out unsafe foreign airlines can use the European list as a guide for their own bans.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government said the decision is “disproportionate” and that it may take similar measures against European nations as part of “reciprocal treatment,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent today by e-mail.

“Venezuela will take steps to protect our interests and preserve the state airline’s prestige,” the ministry said.

In its statement today, the commission said it refrained from adding Libyan-based airlines to the list because of “strong measures” taken by the North African country itself. These include a ban on Libyan carriers flying into the EU until at least November this year, according to the commission.



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