x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Europe bans all Afghan airlines from its airspace

The EU has banned all Afghan airlines from flying into European airspace because of the war-torn country's failure to set up a proper safety regime.

BRUSSELS // The European Union has banned all Afghan airlines from flying into European airspace because of the war-torn country's failure to set up a proper safety regime, the executive Commission said today.

National carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines was already banned, and there were some restrictions on Kam Air, but the new EU blacklist extends the embargo to other carriers such as Safi Airways. The ban takes effect from Wednesday.

"Where we have evidence that air carriers are not performing safe operations or where the regulatory authorities fail in their obligation to enforce the safety standards, we must act to ensure there will be no risks to safety," EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement.

Afghan airlines are now looking at ways around the ban, such as leasing better aircraft or buying overseas operators to run their fleet while being overseen by a credible regulator.

The country's second-biggest airline, Safi, said on Monday it hoped to buy a northern European airline in two or three months, which could act as an operator of the carrier's five-plane fleet.

"There are possibilities for airlines to continue flying and selling tickets under their brand names," a European Commission spokeswoman told reporters.