Mérida, April 3rd 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government rejected the European Union’s announcement today that it is adding Venezuela’s state-owned airline Conviasa to its list of carriers banned from its airspace.
The Venezuelan government created Conviasa in 2004 to replace the private airline Viasa, which was liquidated in 1997. Conviasa flies numerous national and Latin American routes, as well as to Spain, Ecuador, and Syria, at affordable prices. The government has also used it to deliver humanitarian aid to countries in need such as Japan and Haiti.
In June last year, U.S. politicians, during a hearing in the House of Representatives, requested that a number of measures be taken against the Venezuelan government, including sanctions against Conviasa for “supporting terrorism” because of its flights to Syria.
According to the European Commission press statement released today, the ban is due to “numerous safety concerns arising from accidents and the results of ramp checks at EU airports.” The decision, it says, is “based on the unanimous opinion of the Air Safety Committee, composed of representatives of the 27 Members States of the EU, Croatia, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)”.
“The safety performance of two other Venezuelan air carriers, Estellar Latinoamerica and Aerotuy, was also reviewed in depth; however, measures were not considered necessary at this stage. Nonetheless, these two air carriers remain subject to increased monitoring,” read the statement.
The Venezuelan government has expressed its “firm rejection” of the measure in an official statement today.
The decision is “completely disproportionate and contrary to the conclusions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding [Conviasa’s] safety performance,” said the Venezuelan government.
“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is evaluating reciprocal and proportionate actions to protect its fundamental interests and safeguard the prestige of the state-run airline for the Venezuelan people and the international community,” the statement concluded.
The European Union first wrote its blacklist in March 2006, and has since updated it four times a year. It is apparently based on deficiencies found during checks at European airports.
According to Bloomberg, “In addition to imposing an operational ban in Europe, the blacklist can act as a guide for travellers worldwide and influence safety policies in non-EU countries”.
All airlines from Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Philippines, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, and Zambia, are banned from EU airspace. People wishing to travel between those countries must use European airlines or airlines from other countries.
In other cases, only specific airlines are banned, such as Air Madagascar, Air Koryo of North Korea, Iran Air, and Jordan Aviation. In Latin America, only Conviasa of Venezuela and Rollins Air of Honduras are now banned.