Date
May 03, 2016

The European Unions EU Air Safety List, commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as the EU Airline Blacklist, is frequently used by travel risk managers and other authorities to help determine the safety of an airline. However, the Air Safety List is widely misunderstood.

Below, I will address some frequently asked questions and answers to bring more clarity to the EU Air Safety List and help security managers understand what it can and cannot do to support travel decisions.

What is the EU Air Safety List?

The EU Air Safety List is a list of airlines that are not allowed to operate in European airspace. The Air Safety List was introduced in 2006 and is maintained by the European Commission, based on advice from the EU Air Safety Committee.

How does an airline get on the Air Safety List?

All but two of the airlines listed on the Air Safety List are included because the civil aviation authority (CAA) in the airlines home country provides inadequate oversight of the countrys airline industry. In effect, this means that the EU does not trust the authorities of a country to keep unsafe airlines from operating. All airlines from such countries are listed on the Air Safety List, unless the airline can prove to the EU that it meets the EUs safety standards. There are currently 20 countries where CAA oversight does not meet EU standards, accounting for 228 of the 230 airlines fully banned from EU airspace.

Two airlines are listed on the Air Safety List due to safety concerns specific to the airline. Such concerns are most often related to poor aircraft maintenance, obsolete aircraft, or recent accidents. Listings for this reason are rare.

If an airline is listed on the Air Safety List, are all its aircraft banned?

The Air Safety List is divided into two Annexes. For airlines listed in Annex A, every plane in the fleet is banned from EU airspace. Airlines listed in Annex B are allowed to operate flights to the EU with specific aircraft, which are listed in the airlines Air Safety List entry. The cleared aircraft are generally the most modern in the airlines fleet or have been specifically inspected by EU officials.

If an airline is on the Air Safety List, does that mean it is not safe?

Not necessarily. In most instances, a listing on the Air Safety List does not mean that the EU has inspected a specific airline and found it unsafe, it simply means that the EU does trust not the CAA in the airlines home country to certify that it is safe. In effect, the EU assumes airlines from countries with inadequate CAA oversight are unsafe unless the airline approaches the EU authorities and proves otherwise. Some of these airlines actually have strong operational and safety practices, but for various reasons they have not approached the EU to seek removal from the Air Safety List.

How does an airline get off the Air Safety List?

An airline listed on the Air Safety List can apply to the European Commission for removal and present proof that its operational and safety practices meet EU standards. The EU will then assess the airline, including its safety record, operational and maintenance standards, and fleet composition. Should the EU determine that the airline meets all relevant international safety standards, it will remove the airline from the Air Safety List.

Examples

  • Citilink Indonesia (QG): The airline is listed in Annex A of the EU Air Safety List due to inadequate CAA oversight in Indonesia. However, the airline operates a modern fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft, has a clean safety record, and is a fully-owned subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, which is exempt from the EU Air Safety List ban on Indonesian carriers. The airline is listed as Marginal Preferred in the iJET Worldcue Airline Monitor.
  • TAAG Angola Airlines (DT): Angolas flag carrier is listed in Annex B of the EU Air Safety List, while all other Angolan carriers are listed in Annex A. All six of the airlines Boeing 777 aircraft are exempt from the EU ban, as are four of its five Boeing 737-700s. All three of the airlines older Boeing 737-200s are included in the EU ban. The airline has passed the International Air Transport Associations IATA Operational Safety Audit, certifying that it meets international safety standards, and is listed as Preferred in the iJET Worldcue Airline Monitor.
  • Equatorial Congo Airlines (LC): The airline, which operates under the brand name ECAir, is listed in Annex A of the EU Air Safety List, like all other carriers from the Republic of the Congo. ECAir does not operate its own aircraft, but instead contracts its operations out to European airlines Jetairfly (TB) and Privatair (PV). The European airlines provide both the aircraft and the flight crews for the flights, allowing the airline to evade the ban on flights to the EU. ECAir is listed as Preferred in the iJET Worldcue Airline Monitor, contingent on the airline continuing its practice of contracting its flights out to European carriers.