African airlines say they are 'being progressively destroyed' by EU blacklist

African Airlines Assn. reiterated its strong criticism of the EU's "continued unilateral practice of blacklisting of mainly African states and airlines with no visible benefits in enhancing safety on the continent" and called on African governments, the African Union and the African Civil Aviation Commission to not "allow this state of affairs to continue as the continent's air transport industry is being progressively destroyed."

The statement follows the European Commission's April decision to prohibit all carriers certified in Mozambique and two Air Madagascar 767s from operating to EU airports. The EC cited "significant safety deficiencies requiring decisive action in both cases" (ATW Daily News, April 20 ). Mozambique is the 14th African state to be subject to a blanket ban; an additional four African states are subject to either a partial ban or have an individual carrier that has been restricted from operating to the EU.

In a statement, AFRAA called the EU blacklist a "public relations exercise" that acts as "a blunt instrument that constrains the development of a viable African air transport industry in Africa." It continued, "While the net losers are African carriers, the net beneficiaries are always the EU community carriers that swiftly step in to fill the vacuum and take the market share of the banned airlines. EU carriers will continue to operate with increased frequencies and higher yields to Mozambique and the other states that are the subject of the ban. If the airspace of an African country is unsafe, it is unsafe also for European carriers who continue to fly the African skies for commercial benefit."

The organization pointed out that LAM Mozambique Airlines has had no major accidents since it was established in 1980 and no accidents of any kind since 1989. It noted that a number of European airlines "can make no such claim … However, [LAM's] impeccable safety record … has not spared it from the EU blanket banning. AFRAA fails to see how such blanket banning contributes to encourage African carriers which strive to achieve industry best practices in safety standards."
LAM said it will be able to continue offering Maputo-Lisbon service despite Mozambique's addition to the EU blacklist by wet-leasing a Boeing 767-300ER from Portuguese ACMI provider euroAtlantic.

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