The European Union has determined that Gabon has adequately improved its aviation safety situation and removed the African country from the bloc’s Air Safety List, 11 years after adding it to the list. Gabon’s release from the EU’s Air Safety List indicates Brussels deems it safe for passengers to fly on Gabonese airlines and allows air carriers registered in Gabon to operate in European airspace with their own equipment and crew.
“It is very good that we can recognize the efforts the aviation safety authorities in Gabon have made,” said incoming European transport commissioner for transport Adina Vălean. The decision, she added, “illustrates our continuous efforts to offer the highest level of safety, not only to European travelers but also to travelers worldwide, because aviation safety knows no border or nationalities.” Authorities based the decision to lift the ban on the unanimous opinion of the member states’ aviation safety experts, supported by the backing of the European Commission, EASA, and the European parliament’s transport committee. The experts render their assessment against ICAO safety standards.
The latest Air Safety List update, published on Monday, also revealed the EU and its member countries have put the Armenian civil aviation committee under heightened scrutiny because of signs of a decrease in safety oversight. Armenia is scheduled to become part of the EU common aviation area, under which the former Soviet republic will harmonize its aviation legislation with EU standards and implement a large part of EU aviation rules. Although they initialed the agreement in November 2017, the EU and its members have not formally signed it.
A total of 109 airlines from 15 countries now appear on the EU Air Safety List—a decrease of 84 airlines compared with the number published in a twice-yearly update in December 2016, when the EU prohibited 193 airlines from 18 countries from operating to and between its airports.
While the list generally covers all of a state’s airlines due to lack of safety oversight by its aviation authority, it also lists six individual airlines based on safety concerns about those operators specifically. Another three airlines may fly to the EU only with specific aircraft types.