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Switzerland blacklists two airlines

Egyptian carrier Flash Airlines is on the blacklist

(Keystone)

Following France and Belgium earlier this week, Switzerland has published its blacklist of airlines banned from Swiss airports.

Flash Airlines from Egypt and the Armenian Air Van Airlines are the two companies named. The authorities said the list would be constantly updated.

The Federal Civil Aviation Office (FCAO) banned the airlines on the grounds of systematic security deficiencies.

A Lausanne-based consumers' group welcomed the publication of the blacklist but said more needed to be done on the level of the international coordination.

The group said the banning of the airlines was the first step in the right direction and called for passengers to have the right to know in advance what airline would be carrying them.

Switzerland's blacklist does not include airlines banned in other countries that have no regular routes to and from Switzerland. But the FCAO said it would not allow airlines restricted in other countries to reroute flights to Switzerland.

For carriers banned in other countries but still permitted to fly to Switzerland, the authorities said they would undertake targeted inspections.

Inspectors from the FCAO carry out random checks at Swiss airports to ensure that foreign airlines comply with safety standards.

These checks follow the pan-European Safety and Assessment for Foreign Aircraft or SAFA programme.

Raymond Cron, director of the FCAO, told reporters that Switzerland is going to push for the creation of a European blacklist of banned airline companies. This should be published in 2006, Cron said.

Problem solved?

However, blacklists don't really solve the problem of civil aviation safety, because they do not force airlines to comply with international standards, according to Geneva-based industry expert Pierre Condom.

"There are countries where compliance with these standards is not controlled," Condom said. The director of the aviation magazine Interavia estimates that there are up to 100 unsafe civil airlines around the world.

The crash of a Flash Airlines plane at the beginning of 2004 in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm al-Sheikh led to a controversy about the publication of blacklists.

It emerged after the accident, which killed 148 people, that the aircraft had been banned in Switzerland because of security deficiencies.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The two airlines banned from Switzerland are Flash Airlines (Egypt) and Air Van Airlines (Armenia)
The French blacklist contains five companies:
Air Koryo (North Korea)
Air Saint-Thomas (US)
International Air Service (Liberia)
Lineas AER of Mozambique (LAM)
Phuket Airlines (Thailand).
There are nine companies on the Belgian list:
Africa Lines (Central African Republic)
Air Memphis (Egypt)
Air Van Airlines (Armenia)
Central Air Express (Democratic Republic of Congo)
ICTTPW (Libya)
International Air Tours Limited (Nigeria)
Johnsons Air Limited (Ghana)
Silverback Cargo Freighters (Rwanda)
South Airlines (Ukraine).

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