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AIR TRANSPORT: FIRST EU BLACKLIST OF UNSAFE AIRLINES TO BE COMPILED BY EARLY 2006.

In order to draft the first blacklist, each member state will be asked to notify the Commission of carriers subject to national bans on safety grounds and the reasons justifying such bans. Member states will have a month to do so from the entry into force of the new EU Regulation. The Commission (assisted by a committee of experts from the member states) will then also have a month to draw up the EU blacklist which, on its publication, will supersede national blacklists. The EU list will be drawn up on the basis of safety criteria outlined in the Regulation; it will be regularly updated, either to add new names or to remove the names of carriers that have remedied shortcomings. The list will be updated at least every three months on the initiative of the European Commission or a member state. The European Aviation Safety Agency will also have a role to play since it too will be authorised to submit names for inclusion on the list.

In the case of emergencies, the Regulation will clearly not prevent a member state from imposing an immediate national ban. The Commission might then decide to extend such measures across the entire EU by including the carrier concerned on the EU's blacklist, a decision that would need to be confirmed through committee procedure within 10 days. Where the Commission decides not to include a carrier on the blacklist, member states remain free to maintain bans where they believe safety problems only concern their territory. This admittedly unlikely case scenario might for example apply where an airline systematically charters certain types of unsafe aircraft for services to a specific country, using other aircraft on other routes. According to one EU expert such situations have already arisen in the past.

The new Regulation also covers the case of carriers not benefiting from traffic rights in Europe but serving the EU where their aircraft are chartered by carriers holding such rights. These carriers might also be included on the blacklist, preventing other airlines from chartering their aircraft. This is an important provision since the scenario of carriers holding EU traffic rights chartering aircraft from companies offering inadequate safety guarantees is far from hypothetical.

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The EU blacklist should ensure there is no repetition of the chaos in Europe last spring when several EU member states - the Netherlands, France and Germany - decided to suspend flights by the Turkish airline Onur Air in the light of problems detected during safety controls in Switzerland. Their decision was not followed by the other member states, some of which accepted flights initially bound for or due to fly from the three countries imposing bans. Passengers due to board flights in France were notably transferred by coach to Charleroi airport in Belgium.

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Air carrier identity information.

In addition to the blacklist, the Regulation also deals with the right of passengers to be informed of the identity of the carrier with which they are to fly. Indeed this was its primary objective before the spate of air accidents over summer 2005 brought the issue of a blacklist to the fore. On this aspect, the parliamentary report significantly enhances the European Commission's initial proposal (COM(2005)48).

First and foremost by extending its scope to ensure that under certain conditions it also applies to flights outside the EU - for example, in the context of package tours. Moreover, whereas the initial proposal provides only for a right to information, the parliamentary report opens up scope for the reimbursement of passengers if the carrier operating a flight is included on the EU blacklist after a reservation is made or is replaced by a carrier on the list. This right to reimbursement also covers flights outside the EU - though only in cases where a journey began within the EU. For example, an internal flight in Brazil that is part of a package tour starting from the EU.
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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Nov 19, 2005
Words:650
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