EU Bans All Nepal-Based Airlines in Latest Update of Blacklist

The European Union banned all airlines based in Nepal from flying in the 28-nation bloc under the latest changes to a list of unsafe carriers.

The EU cited “safety information from various sources and a hearing both with the Nepalese aviation authorities as well as with a number of Nepalese carriers” to justify the blanket prohibition against the Himalayan country.

“The current safety situation in Nepal does not leave us any other choice than to put all of its carriers on the EU air-safety list,” European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement today in Brussels. “We do hope that this ban will help the aviation authorities to improve aviation safety.”

This is the 22nd update of a blacklist first drawn up by the European Commission in March 2006 with more than 90 airlines, mainly from Africa. The ban covers passenger and cargo carriers from nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Liberia, Sudan and Zambia.

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 generally twice 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.

Safety Policies

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.

In its previous update in July, the EU ended a three-year-old flight ban on Philippine Airlines Inc. while keeping all other Philippines-based airlines including Cebu Air Inc., Southeast Asian Airlines Inc. and Zest Airways Inc. on the blacklist.

In its statement today, the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, said the Philippines had made “further safety progress” and held out the prospect of another easing of the existing flight curbs. It also cited improvements in Sudan and Zambia.

“These countries, as well as a number of other countries where safety is gradually improving, remain for the moment on the list,” Kallas said. “But I am confident that positive decisions are in the pipeline if things keep moving in the right direction.”