EU Bans 92 Airlines From Landing

European Union Commissioner for Transportation Jacques Barrot gestures while speaking during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday March 22, 2006. The European Union on Wednesday banned 92, mostly African-based airlines from landing at European airports, declaring them unsafe as part of a new blacklist of airlines that fail to meet international safety standards.
The European Union on Wednesday banned 92 airlines, most of them based in Africa, from landing at European airports due to failures in meeting international safety standards.

The new EU blacklist of airlines, based on information from the bloc's 25 member nations, includes both cargo and passenger carriers from Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Liberia judged to have an "inadequate system for regulatory oversight" or insufficient safety standards.

EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said the EU was barring 50 carriers from Congo alone, 14 from Sierra Leone and seven from Swaziland, virtually ensuring that all airlines operating from those countries were prevented from flying to Europe.

He said some planes used for flights to Europe and possibly elsewhere were "flying coffins," adding that safety controls in the listed nations were too weak.

Read the European Union's airline blacklist.
The EU moved to set up a single blacklist after several fatal airline crashes in Greece and Italy last year and the fatal crash of Egypt's Flash Airlines in the Red Sea in June 2004, which killed 148 people, mostly French tourists.

The Egyptian airline was not on the EU list, as it had gone bankrupt, Barrot said.

Barrot said the high number of listed Congolese airlines was partly due to years of civil war, after which old military planes were converted for civilian and cargo use.

"There was a very difficult period in that country where there were military clashes. And a number of planes used for military operations were then just converted into charter planes, hence the high number of airlines," Barrot said.

"In Africa they tend to use planes manufactured in the former Soviet Union. They were basically patched up and they are under suspicion" for their poor safety record, Barrot said.

Only one airline from Congo, Hewa Bora Airways, is allowed to use one approved plane for its flights to the EU.