Following the crash yesterday (30 June) of a Yemeni carrier near the Comoros Islands, the EU's transport chief called for the establishment of a global blacklist of airlines deemed unsafe.
"If we want to achieve better safety, I am convinced that we need to have a worldwide blacklist," EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said on 30 June.
"The European Black List works pretty well in Europe," he said of a list which in March 2006 replaced different national black lists of companies in serious breach of safety requirements.
EU-registered aircraft must meet strict safety specifications in both their design and manufacture, and throughout its life a plane registered in Europe must undergo regular inspections.
EU concerns ahead of the crash
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is responsible for certifying maintenance operations outside the 27-nation bloc, granted Yemenia Airways the right to maintain EU-registered aircraft in 2006 but suspended it in February this year after it failed a set of audit inspections, EASA told Reuters on Tuesday.
The move would not have affected the Airbus A310 plane which crashed off the Comoros Islands yesterday, since that aircraft was registered in Yemen. But it provides further evidence of European concerns over the airline's operations after France said it had barred the same aircraft from its airports and the European Commission said the plane which crashed had sparked an EU inquiry in 2007.
Yemen on Tuesday denied any safety problems with its flag carrier and said its aircraft were always thoroughly maintained.
The aircraft which crashed is registered in Yemen but is indirectly owned by the US government after a federal bailout of insurer AIG, parent of the world's largest aircraft leasing firm by fleet value, International Lease Finance Corp (ILFC).
ILFC leased the plane to Yemenia in 1999, industry sources said. The Los Angeles-based company declined to comment.
ILFC is in the process of being sold to raise funds by AIG, which is 80% owned by the US government.
(EurActiv with Reuters.)