MIAMI – Venezuelan carrier, Avior Airlines, was added to the infamous European Union (EU) blacklist of airlines on its latest updates of the EU Air Safety List.
Even though the airline doesn’t have active European destinations on its network, the European Commission said Avior Airlines was banned because of “unaddressed safety deficiencies” identified during the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) third-country operator (TCO) audit.
“Our objective is to offer the highest level of safety in European skies. The EU’s Air Safety List remains one of our most effective tools to achieve this,” EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc said.
Curiously, the decision to include Avior on the blacklist comes after the EU released sanctions over Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro dictatorship and other participants that may be supporting the continuous violation of Human Rights from the regime.
Avior Airlines is the second Venezuelan carrier that has been banned by the EU Air Safety List. Conviasa, the government-owned flag carrier, was included on the list in 2012 for not filling “international safety standards;” it was removed from the list a year later, in 2013.
Avior’s Expansion Plans Halted
In September 2016, the Venezuelan carrier took delivery of the first of six ex-Air China Airbus A340-300s, intended to fuel its expansion and growth plans.
The airline’s president Jorge Añez Daher, emphasized the importance of the event for the history of the airline, as that is the first widebody the carrier takes delivery of since its foundation in 1994.
The purchasing deal for these six widebodies was reached between Avior and Airbus Financial Services (AFS), with a US$150 million funding from an undisclosed financing entity.
Avior intended to launch flights to Rome, Milan, Paris, and Buenos Aires with the A340. However, of the six aircraft that were ordered, only one is operating the daily Barcelona – Miami – Barcelona route, whereas the second airliner is sitting in storage at Tarbes Airport in France.
A Long Blacklist
The updated blacklist has 178 airlines from 16 countries that are banned from flying through EU airspace. At least 172 carriers were included over an unsatisfied European Commission with the safety oversight level of their local aviation authority.
The remaining six carriers that were included for specific issues related to safety concerns of the airline operations are Avior Airlines from Venezuela, Iran Aseman Airlines from Iran, Iraqi Airways from Iraq, Blue Wing Airlines from Suriname, Med-View Airlines from Nigeria and Air Zimbabwe from Zimbabwe.
One of the eldest carriers in the list is Air Zimbabwe. It has a remaining debt of $300 million and was banned over safety concerns. There is speculation that the setting up of the new “state-owned” airline, Zimbabwe Airways, may be a way avoid restrictions.
Additionally, the EU Air Safety List has also six carriers that are not banned but are subject to operational restrictions with specific aircraft types: Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires SN2AG from Gabon, Air Koryo from North Korea, Air Service Comores from the Comoros, Iran Air from Iran and TAAG Angola Airlines from Angola.
Air Koryo is the only airline that operates flights in and out North Korea. Last week Air China, the single international carrier that remained flying to DPRK, ceased flights.
Also, this year, two airlines were removed from the blacklist over “safety improvements”: Mustique Airways from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Air Urga from Ukraine. Both have been on the list since May 2017.
“Today we are showing that with our help, airlines can be quickly removed from the list when they tackle their safety issues. Work pays off and I hope that the example of Mustique Airways and [Air] Urga will inspire others,” concluded Bulc.