Venezuela: EU ban on state airline is unwarranted

AP News
Posted: Apr 03, 2012 5:28 PM
Venezuela: EU ban on state airline is unwarranted

Venezuela rejected the European Union's decision on Tuesday to prohibit the South American country's state airline from flying into European airports due to safety concerns.

Venezuela's foreign ministry called the decision preventing Conviasa from flying into the EU unfair, saying it "contradicts assessments made the International Civil Aviation Organization regarding the safe operating conditions."

In a regular update of its blacklist, the European Commission said earlier Tuesday that Conviasa, or Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios Aereos SA, is being placed on the list because of "numerous safety concerns arising from accidents and the results of ramp checks at EU airports."

Conviasa's only European destination is Madrid, Spain.

Venezuela is considering the possibility of taking "reciprocal measures," the foreign ministry announced in a statement. It did not elaborate.

The European Commission said concerns were also raised regarding the safety of two other Venezuelan airlines, Estellar Latinoamerica and Aerotuy.

But EU authorities did not include those carriers on the blacklist, saying they would "remain subject to increased monitoring."

Headquartered at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, Venezuela, the airline also operates flights to cities throughout Venezuela, the Caribbean and South America.

In 2010, Conviasa suspended domestic flights for two weeks following a crash in Venezuela that killed 17 people.

Two years earlier, a cargo plane operated by Conviasa crashed in Ecuador's central Andes mountains shortly before it was to land, killing three crew members on board. The Boeing 737-200 lost contact with air traffic controllers five minutes before it was to land in the town of Latacunga, where it was scheduled to undergo maintenance.