EU set to draw up airline blacklist

THE European Parliament yesterday backed the creation of a blacklist to ban unsafe airlines from flying in European Union airspace.

The list could be in place and available to passengers as early as January. Pressure to create a binding EU blacklist began after a Flash airline plane crashed in January 2004, killing all of its passengers, mainly French holidaymakers. It emerged that the Egyptian airline had been banned from Swiss airports on technical grounds two years earlier.

Calls for action increased when it was discovered in May this year that Onur Air, a Turkish carrier banned from Dutch airspace, was flying Dutch tourists to and from Belgian airports and bussing them over the border.

The list will be compiled from information collected from all 25 EU member states about airlines already banned from their territory. EU transport ministers meeting on 5 December must approve the plan before it becomes law. Under the rules, passengers would have to be informed of the name of the carrier when booking a flight. They would be entitled to a change of flight or compensation if the airline was on the blacklist.

The UK has blacklisted airlines from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Tajikistan. It has also denied permits to Air Mauritanie and Thai carrier Phuket Airlines.

Scottish MEPs welcomed the move to quell growing fears about air safety. Four crashes in August killed more than 330 people worldwide.