Free Aden

Towards The Liberation of South Arabia

Yemenia could face air safety ban in EU -letter

Posted by FREE ADEN on July 2, 2009

By Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Yemenia aircraft could be banned in the European Union if it fails to provide reassurances it is dealing with recurring air safety problems, the European Commission told the airline in a letter on Wednesday.

“Unless the Commission receives adequate evidence with respect to the requested information, it will be obliged to propose to subject all operations of Yemenia Yemen Airways into the Community to an operating ban,” it said in the letter, obtained by Reuters.

The warning comes after a Yemenia-run Airbus A310-300 went down in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday with 153 people on board as it came in to land at Moroni, the Comoran capital.

EU officials said on Tuesday that problems had been found in the crashed aircraft in 2007, but Yemenia had avoided a ban by raising its standards shortly afterwards.

The letter to the chairman of Yemenia said air safety inspections of its aircraft operating in Europe since October 2008 had shown “significant findings are again recurring, in particular in the area of maintenance”.

Yemenia Chairman Abdul-Khaliq al-Qadi told a news conference later on Wednesday that his airline “follows the highest standards of safety in the world”.

“The aircraft that crashed was in full readiness (to fly) and had no technical fault at all … if we did not maintain our aircraft we would not have been able to operate 40 years without an accident,” he said.

“We are a company that applies international standards, do not judge us based on the poverty you see in Yemen.”

The Commission called on Yemenia to provide all available information on the crash by July 10, as well as further assurances.

“Your company is invited to urgently provide…an update on the implementation of the corrective actions undertaken by Yemenia Yemen Airways in the area of maintenance and operations to eliminate the detected deficiencies,” it said.

The Commission invited the airline to a July 2 meeting of the EU’s Air Safety Committee, or to arrange another venue to present its case.

“On the basis of the results of this meeting…the European Commission, assisted by its Air Safety Committee, shall decide if the imposition of an operating ban on Yemenia Yemen Airways applicable in all European community member states is justified,” it added.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Sudam in Sanaa)

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