Maputo — The European Commission on Wednesday updated the list of airlines banned from flying in European Union airspace - and kept all 17 Mozambican air companies, including the national carrier, Mozambique Airlines (LAM), on the black list.
The ban was imposed in April 2011 and has been renewed every year since. This has nothing to do with the safety record of LAM or any other Mozambican air company. The EU's complaint is with the regulatory agency, the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), which supposedly falls short of EU criteria.
The Commission did, however, admit that it might remove the Mozambican companies from the black list if the civil aviation progress maintained the "promising progress" noted to date.
But this is not the first time the Commission has made encouraging noises. Much the same was said in December 2013, when the Commission noted that the IACM was implementing a "corrective action plan" approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
At that time, the Commission welcomed "the progress reported by the competent authorities of Mozambique in the rectification of the deficiencies identified by ICAO, in particular those directed towards internal capacity building, and encouraged their efforts towards completing their work of establishing an aviation system fully compliant with ICAO standards".
One of Mozambique's neighbours, Swaziland, has come off the black list. All Swazi air companies can now fly to Europe, if they so wish. The European Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas, remarked "when countries do what is necessary to guarantee the safety of their aviation industry, it is important that the EU recognise these efforts".
Among other African countries whose air companies are all banned are Benin, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Zambia. The Angolan carrier, TAAG, escapes the ban, but the list specifies that only nine aircraft in its fleet (five Boeing 777s, and four Boeing 737-700s) may fly in European airspace.
The EU ban has no immediate impact, since no Mozambican registered aircraft currently fly to European destinations, and nor are there any plans in the near future for them to do so.