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EU bans ‘flying coffins’

IF YOU’RE ever tempted by a bargain basement air ticket to a far-flung destination – be warned – officials from the European Union have branded 92 airlines, most of them based in Africa, as ‘flying coffins’. All have been banned from landing at European airports, due to their failure to meet international safety standards.

The new EU blacklist of airlines includes both cargo and passenger carriers from Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Liberia that have been judged to have insufficient safety standards.

EU Transport Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, said the EU was barring 50 carriers from Congo, 14 from Sierra Leone and seven from Swaziland, meaning that virtually all airlines operating from those countries were prevented from flying to Europe. He said some planes used for flights to Europe, and possibly elsewhere, were “flying coffins”, adding that safety controls in the listed nations were too weak.

Barrot said: “In Africa, they tend to use planes manufactured in the former Soviet Union. They were basically patched up and are now under suspicion for their poor safety record.” Only one airline from Congo, Hewa Bora Airways, is allowed to use one approved plane for its flights to the EU.

The EU blacklist also includes Ariana Afghan Airlines, North Korea’s Air Koryo, Thailand’s Phuket Airlines, plus two airlines from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Lesser restrictions were placed on Air Bangladesh and Buraq Air from Libya, which will be able to operate flights – but only if they use certain planes that have met safety requirements.

The list is published on the EU’s website and will be reviewed every three months, but remember, reputable travel agents, such as PDM, will not offer tours and packages using banned airlines – so be safe and book with the professionals.