EU explains ban on RP carriers

Despite good reviews for PR and 5J

By Cynthia Balana
April 1, 2010

Manila —The European Commission has recognized the measures taken by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to ensure the safety of their operations but these were not enough to lift the ban on all Philippine carriers from entering the European airspace which will take effect Thursday.

Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the EC delegation to the Philippines, said in a statement on Wednesday that the EC was ready to support the efforts and examine any progress in the implementation of corrective actions and compliance with international safety standards by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

This support, said MacDonald, could include an expert visit to review the safety performance of the major operators and the oversight exercised by the CAAP, before a reconsideration of the ban in the future.

In announcing the ban during its meeting in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, the EC said the immediate concrete actions taken by the new CAAP management led by Director-General Alfonso Cusi demonstrated the willingness of the Philippines to address quickly safety deficiencies, and to pave the way for their successful resolution without delay.

However, the EC went on to implement the ban “in view of the Significant Safety Concern identified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in relation to the supervisory authority and pending the implementation of adequate corrective actions, including those drawn up in response to our concerns in 2008 but not yet implemented.”

The decision followed on the ICAO announcement in October 2009 of a Significant Safety Concern relating to the oversight functions carried out by the CAAP, and on the earlier downgrading of the Philippines' safety rating by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

MacDonald said the EC ban reflected the unanimous opinion of the EU's Air Safety Committee at its meeting in Brussels on March 17-19. This Committee brought together air-safety experts from all 27 EU member-states, as well as from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland , EASA and Eurocontrol.

“The EC has been in discussion on these matters with the CAAP since April 2008, and acknowledges the recent efforts launched by the CAAP to reform the civil aviation system in the Philippines and the steps undertaken to address the safety deficiencies reported by FAA and ICAO,” MacDonald said.

Cusi took part in Brussels meeting last month, and was able to inform the EC of the steps he had taken since his appointment to redress the safety performance of the Philippines.

With Cusi in the meeting were senior representatives of Cebu Pacific and of Philippine Airlines who also briefed the EC on their own measures to enhance safety.

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