Iraqi Airways was notified of the ban on July 16, but only came to light over the weekend after the Swedish Transport Agency barred the Iraqi flag carrier from its airspace.
The European move came after Iraqi Airways last year applied for a Third Country Operator (TCO) authorization from EASA, a permit required for airlines based outside the EU, but operating traffic in one or more of its member states.
The TCO system is being introduced to simplify permission for non-EU carriers to operate within the 28-nation EU plus the four European Free Trade Association nations of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Instead of each non-EU airline having to apply to each national aviation regulator within the EU, It submits a single application to EASA.
In a July 16 letter from EASA executive director Patrick Ky to Iraqi Airways’ CEO Osama Al-Sadir—seen by ATW—the EASA chief said that initial analysis of data from Iraqi Airways had led the agency to request a “technical consultation meeting” in Cologne in the spring.
As a precursor to the meeting, documentation such as operational manuals had to be submitted to EASA. Iraqi Airways had failed to provide this documentation, Ky said.
“Furthermore, after the receipt of your TCO application, EASA has received credible and specific safety reports containing examples of alleged failures to comply with applicable international (ICAO) safety standards by Iraqi Airways and the Iraqi CAA.”
ATW understands from unidentified sources that 600 non-EU airlines had applied for TCO authorization. Most had been granted with few problems, but a small number of airlines were subject to greater scrutiny because of their perceived high-risk status.
He said the decision to ban Iraqi Airways was not merely because of failures to supply documentation, but concerns over multiple reported safety issues. The decision to ban Iraqi Airways was not taken lightly “because we know it will have an operational impact.”
It is believed, for example, that several hundred Iraqi Airways passengers in Sweden are now unable to take their planned flights home.
In an Aug. 5 letter to Iraqi Airways revoking its traffic permit, Simon Posluk, head of the Market, Environment and Analysis Unit in the Swedish Transport Agency’s Civil Aviation and Maritime Department said the ban applied to aircraft registered on Iraqi Airways’ air operator’s certificate.
The agency “would … be prepared to consider applications for the use of wet-leased aircraft with necessary authorization.”
A UK Civil Aviation Authority spokesman confirmed Iraqi Airways could use wet-leased aircraft to continue its services to the UK, but that applications would have to be made to individual regulators for approval.
(Alan Dron - ATWOline News)