Which Airlines Are Banned From EU Airspace

This week, the European Air Safety Committee released an updated version of the EU Air Safety List. The list contains the names of airlines which are banned from flying in EU airspace due to concerns for their safety procedures. Some airlines on the list only have partial restrictions.

Air Zimbabwe aircraft
Air Zimbabwe is one of the airlines identified as a potential risk. Photo: Bob Adams via Wikimedia Commons

The List

Santa isn’t the only one with a naughty list at this time of year. An update to the EU Air Safety List (ASL) has been released this week. The list names any airline, carrier or state which does not meet international safety standards and is therefore banned from operating in EU airspace.

Updated two or three times a year as standard, the list is necessary to ensure passengers are not at risk when travelling. Any airline on the list may be fully or partially banned from operating in the EU. Some airlines on the list, which don’t routinely operate in the EU, are named so travellers are aware of the risks when travelling with some airlines around the world. The list is also updated as needed after current events which may affect passenger’s safety or upon request of a state or airline.

A necessary document, but not a popular one, this naughty list only applies to commercial flights, not private ones. Just like Santa’s list, it’s not a list anyone wants to be on.

This year’s update

The new list, released this week, has a total of 115 air carriers who are banned from EU skies. This includes 109 airlines from 15 states which are banned due to a lack of international standards by the aviation authorities in said states. This means that there is not an overarching structure which ensures that these airlines are checked and held accountable in their own state. It does not mean the specific airline have been found to lack safety precautions.

However, some airlines have been added to the list because they have been identified as potential dangers in themselves. The airlines are; Avior Airlines (Venezuela), Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran), Iraqi Airways (Iraq), Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname), Med-View Airlines (Nigeria) and Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe).

Iran Air A300
Iran Air is also on the list. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia Commons 

There are also three airlines which have operational restrictions when operating in EU airspace and therefore can only use certain types of aircraft. The airlines are; Air Koryo from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Air Service Comores from the Comoros and Iran Air from Iran.

Who writes the naughty list?

Apart from Santa? The European Commission decides who goes on the list and it needs a lot of information to do so. It requires a lot of data from all over the world to make informed decisions so the Commission gathers information from ICAO, FAA, EASA, SAFA and TCO reports, as well as gathering its own information from states.

The European Commission also gets support from the EU Air Safety Committee (ASC), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Parliament’s Transport Committee. The safety standards are always checked against international standards and the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Is it possible to get off the naughty list?

Fear not, as with Santa’s list, good deeds can erase an airline’s name from the list and allow it to fly to the EU. An airline can ask to be removed from the list if it believes it has taken appropriate measures to address the Committee’s concerns. It has to provide evidence that it now meets the standards set by the commission and that the oversight authority it answers to also meets international standards.

The Air Safety Committee will then look at the evidence and decide. If an airline is deemed safe but the oversight authority is not, then the state is responsible for addressing the issues of the authority.

Santa airplane
Perhaps Santa will have to reconsider his sleigh in the future. Photo: 176th Wing Alaska Air National Guard via Wikimedia Commons

Be beware, bad deeds can mean an airline or an entire state can be added at any time. If the committee receives evidence of serious safety issues, the list is updated. Airlines which are already on the list, or might be added, have the right to submit a defence to the Committee. They can send any evidence which shows they meet international standards and should stay off the list.

Is Santa on the list?

Luckily for most people, Santa’s name does not appear so nothing should prevent the man in red from delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. Although the Committee hasn’t released an official statement regarding Santa’s health and safety status, it’s fair to assume that he may be considered in the future. An open-air cabin, lack of proper landing gear and reindeer for engines are currently not part of the international standards for safety.

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