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Two Ghana Cargo Carriers Added to EU List of Unsafe Airlines

The European Union added two cargo carriers from Ghana to Europe’s list of unsafe airlines, prohibiting Meridian Airways from flying in the bloc and restricting operations by Airlift International.

The ban on Meridian Airways is justified by “a series of very poor results” in inspections of the company’s aircraft, said the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm. Airlift International is barred from using all except one of its planes in the EU after a check revealed a safety level “well below that required by international standards,” the commission said.

“We cannot afford any compromise in air safety,” European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement released today in Brussels. The EU-wide action follows British and Belgian bans on Meridian Airways and U.K. concerns about Airlift International, according to the commission.

This is the 15th update of a blacklist first drawn up by the commission in March 2006 with more than 90 airlines mainly from Africa. The ban already covers passenger and cargo carriers from nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Liberia, Sudan and the Philippines.

Airline crashes in 2004 and 2005 that killed hundreds of European travelers prompted EU governments to seek a uniform approach to airline safety through a common blacklist. The list, updated at least four times a year, is based on deficiencies found during checks at European airports, the use of antiquated aircraft by companies and shortcomings by non-EU airline regulators.

In addition to imposing an operational ban in Europe, the blacklist can act as a guide for travelers worldwide and influence safety policies in non-EU countries. Nations that are home to carriers with poor safety records can ground them to avoid being put on the EU list, while countries keen to keep out unsafe foreign airlines can use the European list as a guide for their own bans.

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