Swiss compromise over naming banned aircraft
Switzerland’s aviation authorities are to reveal information about airlines’ safety records, but only if asked by passengers.
The transport minister announced on Monday that passengers could contact the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) to find out whether a plane was blacklisted.
However, Moritz Leuenberger said the service was only available to passengers who could prove they were due to travel on the flight in question.
“Every travel firm or customer has the right to ask the Federal Office for Civil Aviation if a particular airline appears on this list,” Moritz Leuenberger said in an interview with the Geneva daily “Le Temps”.
Any reply will only say that an individual aircraft does not appear on the list and is authorised to land in Switzerland. If the FOCA provides no information, consumers can assume that the aircraft is banned.
Leuenberger stressed once again that he could not publish the full list of 21 aircraft banned from Switzerland, as this would violate a confidentiality clause covering the Europe-wide aircraft inspection programme.
But in a statement on Monday, the FOCA said it would discuss lifting the confidentiality clause with the European Civil Aviation Conference at their next meeting.
The country’s aviation authorities have come under mounting pressure from consumer groups to disclose more information since the government revealed that a passenger jet, which plunged into the Red Sea on January 3, was on its blacklist.
Not far enough
But the Swiss Consumers Association said Monday’s move did not go far enough.
“Every passenger has the right to get this information,” said the organisation’s Matthias Nast. “The list should be readily available to everyone in travel agencies.”
Nast added that the system of contacting the FOCA by letter, fax or email was impractical.
“Not all passengers can write in or email to get access to this information,” he complained.
Red Sea crash
A week after the Flash Airlines crash near the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh killed all 148 people on board, Britain released a list of airlines banned from its skies – in breach of the European aviation agreement.
Switzerland initially said it would not follow suit but last week the government published the names of seven aircraft banned from Swiss skies.
This followed an Italian news agency report which named 11 planes allegedly blacklisted in Switzerland.
But the government stopped short of making public the full list, citing the “gentlemen’s agreement”.
swissinfo with agencies
The Swiss have named seven airlines whose aircraft have been banned from flying into and out of Switzerland:
GIR Jet (Spain)
Premium Air Shuttle (Nigeria)
JR Executive (Lebanon/United States)
Hemus Air (Bulgaria)
Silk Way (Azerbaijan)
Flash Airlines (Egypt)
On January 3, a Boeing 737 owned by Flash Airlines crashed into the Red Sea near the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 148 people on board.
A day later the Swiss government announced that the airline had been banned from Swiss airspace due to safety concerns.
Authorities say 21 other planes are also banned from Swiss airspace.
The results of aircraft safety checks cannot to be disclosed under the European Civil Aviation Conference, although the British have done so.
Last week the Swiss government released the names of six other airlines banned from Swiss skies.
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