By Youri Kemp
Caribbean News Now associate editor
BRUSSELS, Belgium — Over the weekend the European Union Commission on Transport and Mobility (COTM) revised and released their airline “blacklist”, the EU Air Safety List, of countries, airlines and carriers that are banned or sanctioned with “heavy restrictions” from flying into EU countries and over EU territory.
Of the list of over 120 airlines, Suriname’s “Blue Wing Airlines [BWI]” and Venezuela’s “Avior Airlines [ROI]” are completely banned from flying into or over EU airspace, effective immediately.
Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, said in a press release on the EUs COTM’s website after the list was revealed, “The EU Air Safety List is one of our main instruments to continuously offer the highest level of air safety to Europeans.”
The advisory also distinguished between two main categories where airlines and countries may find themselves on the list:
1. A lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities from these states; or
2. In the case of Suriname’s BWI and Venezuela’s ROI, being placed on the list was based on safety concerns with regard to these airlines themselves and not necessarily national airline safety and protocols within their country of origin.
The American embassy in Suriname banned all of their employees from using BWI back in 2010. The EU followed suit shortly thereafter and banned BWI two days later, and they have been on the list ever since.
In November, 2017, the EU blacklisted Venezuela’s ROI amidst safety concerns. Neighbouring Curacao, a former Dutch colony in the Caribbean, following suit, banned ROI in December, 2017.
Both ROI and BWI offer flights around the Caribbean, Central America and into the United States.
The press release on the EU COTM’s website further states: “In addition, and in line with the European Union’s endeavour to make European airspace as safe as possible, Eurocontrol is today deploying a new system to prevent unsafe aircraft from entering European airspace.”
Since November 2016, any non-European aircraft that enters the EU needs to have a single safety authorisation valid throughout Europe called “third country operator authorisation” or TCO.
“The new system will alarm the air traffic controllers of all member states that an aircraft which does not have such an authorisation is trying to fly to the Union.
“The aircraft will then be denied access to the airspace of that member state. The new system is the result of close cooperation between the Commission, Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in a joint effort to put in place the best possible enforcement tools for aviation safety.”