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Air safety: the list of airlines banned in Europe

To give passengers peace of mind when flying, the European Commission has drawn up a blacklist of airlines banned in Europe. These operating restrictions or bans, which are based on criteria common throughout the EU, are designed to enhance flight safety. How are the airlines on this list assessed, and which countries are concerned?
Published on July 24, 2023

European Commission flight safety assessment criteria

On December 14 2005, the European Parliament and the Council declared their intention to draw up a list of air carriers subject to an operating ban in the European Community. As a result, the first blacklist was drawn up in 2006, and has since been regularly updated. But EC regulation no. 2111/2005 also expressly mentions the need to pass on information to passengers using all effective means of communication, to enable them to identify the carriers operating the flights they are taking.

The European Commission has set up an Air Safety Committee, which meets twice a year. With the participation of Member State representatives, this body regularly assesses a number of airlines against minimum safety standards.

Operating bans may be imposed on a single carrier or on all airlines in a given country.

The committee's assessment is based on a study of technical criteria relating to :

  • Serious safety shortcomings, highlighted in reports from ramp inspections carried out as part of the SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) program.
  • Proven failure by a third country to comply with international safety standards
  • Information showing that safety shortcomings are the cause of a serious incident or accident
  • Shortcomings, reluctance and/or lack of transparency on the part of the air carrier following an investigation by the civil aviation authority
  • Insufficient or inappropriate measures in response to previous alerts
  • Lack of cooperation or inability of the competent authorities of the state in which the aircraft is registered to carry out surveillance, in accordance with the obligations inherent in the Chicago Convention.

These assessment procedures are designed to guarantee air travellers a level of safety in line with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Carriers on the list of airlines banned in Europe

The latest update published in the Official Journal of the European Union dates from June 7, 2023. The complete list of all air carriers banned from operating within the Union is attached.

If you'd like to do your own checks before committing to a flight with an airline, you can find all the relevant details listed by country: the name of the carrier, its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) or operating license number, the three-letter ICAO code and the state to which the operator belongs.

Entirely banned countries include :

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola (apart from two companies)
  • Armenia
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Kirghizstan
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Nepal
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sudan

This means that all airlines certified by these states (with the exception of Angola) are banned from flying within the European Union. Other isolated airlines, based respectively in Venezuela, Suriname, Iran, Iraq and Zimbabwe, also feature on this inventory.

Good to know: due to the war in Ukraine, many airlines certified by the Russian authorities were also added to the blacklist in 2022.

On the other hand, some airlines that depend on certifying countries authorized within the European Union are still subject to operating restrictions. They can only operate flights to the EU under certain conditions. In order to exercise their traffic rights, they must charter an aircraft and crew belonging to an air carrier that is not subject to an operating ban. For the time being, this special situation concerns only two airlines, based respectively in Iran and North Korea.