EU keeps Indonesia on airline blacklist, adds Gabon

  • Reuters
  • , Thursday July 24 2008
(Adds commissioner quotes, detail)
BRUSSELS, July 24 (Reuters) – The European Commission added the west African state of Gabon to its airline safety blacklist on Thursday and maintained a ban on all Indonesian airlines flying to the European Union.
Safety experts from all 27 EU states called for the Indonesian ban to be upheld after meetings with airlines Garuda, Mandala and Air Fast and with local aviation authorities.
“The Indonesian authorities have still not developed and implemented an efficient oversight programme on any of the carriers under their regulatory control,” a European Commission statement said.
A ban on Iran’s Mahan Airlines, imposed last September, was lifted, following EU safety inspections in Iran.
The year-old Indonesian ban follows a series of air crashes in Indonesia and reports of deteriorating safety standards since deregulation of the country’s aviation sector in the late 1990s.
On Thursday, a Garuda Indonesia pilot was charged with negligence over a crash last year that killed 21 people when the plane he was landing skidded off the runway at Yogyakarta airport.
No Indonesian carriers fly to the EU, but the ban affects the sprawling archipelago’s tourist industry, as Europeans have been warned not to use Indonesian airlines on transit routes, such as between Jakarta and the island of Bali.
Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani rejected media allegations the EU had maintained the Indonesian ban for political reasons.
“We do not have a political agenda to pursue,” he told reporters. “All we want is to guarantee the safety of EU citizens. If an airline has respected all of the safety and security rules, then they’ll be struck off the blacklist.”
The Commission added airlines from Gabon to its blacklist, except for Gabon Airlines and Afrijet which will be restricted from expanding their European operations any further and will be regularly inspected.
The updated list also maintains a ban on all carriers from Equatorial Guinea, the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (Reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Paul Taylor/Rory Channing)
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