France said it has banned five passenger carriers, and Belgium has prohibited nine cargo companies.
The action is a bid to allay public fears about flying after recent deadly crashes in Cyprus and Venezuela, and has the full support of the European Commission, which is trying to implement an EU-wide list of suspect airlines that pools safety information from all 25 member states.
Swiss officials said they plan to release a similar ‘name and shame’ list on Thursday, and the UK and US have similar policies of identifying banned airlines or countries where civil aviation regulations are deemed inadequate.
EU states will meet in Brussels from September 8 to discuss harmonising rules to ban or suspend an airline’s flights, according to EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
France has banned: Air Koryo of North Korea; Air St Thomas of the US Virgin Islands; International Air Services of Liberia; Thailand’s Phuket Airlines; and Linhas Aereas de Mocambique and Transairways, both from Mozambique.
On Belgium’s banned list are: Africa Lines of the Central African Republic; Air Memphis from Egypt; Air Van Airlines of Armenia; Central Air Express from Congo; Libya’s ICTTPW; International Air Tours Limited from Nigeria; Johnsons Air Limited of Ghana; Silverback Cargo Freighters from Rwanda; and South Airlines of Ukraine.
However there has been some criticism from within the travel industry of the lists, saying tighter safety regulations and inspections are needed instead.
Director of security and control at France’s civil aviation authority Maxime Coffin said he accepts the list is “not a universal response or a panacea” to security fears.
“Putting companies on a list is not enough to avoid all accidents,” said Mr Coffin.
“But by being more transparent, we are improving the information available to passengers and it’s a way for each state to strengthen control over its airlines.”
He said the lists would also accelerate Europe-wide efforts to monitor the issue.
With a number of African airlines on the list, African air safety regulator ASECNA has admitted the continent has a lack of expertise in aviation safety.
“This lack of expertise concerns the technical and commercial viability of carriers and it’s the same for every country in Africa,” said ASECNA head Amadou Ousmane.
The regulator involves 17 mainly francophone African countries and France and is based in Dakar.