All Afghan airlines banned from flying in Europe
(BRUSSELS) - The European Union on Tuesday banned all Afghan airlines from flying in the 27-nation bloc due to the poor safety record of its civil aviation oversight system.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, also added Mauritania Airways to its black list of high-risk airlines along with new carriers from Gabon, Afric Aviation, and Kyrgyzstan, CAAS.
State-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines had been the only airline from Afghanistan on the list but the EU decided to extend the ban to the other three air carriers certified in the war-torn country.
The commission cited "safety deficiencies identified in its system to oversee civil aviation and on several carriers."
The EU executive said it was ready to provide active support to Afghanistan's efforts to improve civil aviation oversight and safety in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Afghan transport minister Daoud Ali Najafi said earlier this month that he would go to Brussels to present an action plan to the EU's air safety panel.
The privately-owned Kam Air, Safi Airways and Pamir Airways fly to Germany, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Central Asia and the Gulf. They have also flown in the past to Britain and Austria. No Afghan airlines fly to the United States.
Ariana has been blacklisted since 2008 but has sold flights to Frankfurt with planes it leases from Turkey that are registered in the EU.
Nangyalai Qalatwal, of the Afghan transport ministry, told AFP that Safi Airways would also fly to Frankfurt with a chartered plane.
A banned airline can continue to fly and sell tickets under its brand name by renting planes from countries that are not blacklisted, said European Commission spokeswoman for transport Helen Kearns.
"But any aircraft which is licensed by the Afghan oversight authorities certainly can't fly into Europe anymore," she told a news briefing.
Qalatwal said Afghanistan has passed a new aviation law that meets international standards and airlines that do not respect them will be grounded.
"All the airliners and their planes will be assessed within two months and any airliner found not meeting the safety requirements of the new law will be banned from flying," Qalatwal said.
The European Commission said it blacklisted Mauritania Airways due to "persisting deficiencies" in the operations and maintenance of the African air carrier that were identified during inspections in several EU states.
The EU removed nine operators from Kazakhstan from the list and partly lifted restrictions on Ghana's Airlift International.
Europe's flight blacklist includes carriers from 19 states, a total of 276 airlines.
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