Dubai: Afghan airline Safi Airways is negotiating the purchase of a European airline in order to resume services to Frankfurt that were stopped when the European Union slapped a ban on Afghan-registered airlines, a company official said on Monday without providing further details.
Starting today, the EU Commission will ban flights of all airlines from Afghanistan due to the absence of an aviation regulation authority. The ban also affects Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air.
The EU had earlier allowed airlines from the war-torn country to fly to Frankfurt by wet leasing — or hiring a crew and maintenance team and a plane.
"At present, Afghanistan still has none of the basics: no aircraft registry, no certification, no inspection, no enforcement — in short, no regulation at all," an EU source had said.
Ariana was the only carrier previously on the EU blacklist, but was allowed to fly to Frankfurt, like Safi Airways.
By buying an airline registered under European aviation supervision, Safi will be able to operate in European airspace.
"The German civil aviation authority has inspected Safi's aircraft multiple times since Safi started the Frankfurt-Kabul service in June 2009," Werner Borchert, chief executive of Safi Airways, said.
"What makes this ban especially hard for us is the fact that the EU Commission has on several occasions confirmed that it does not see a safety risk in Safi's operations."
The airline is the only one based in Afghanistan that is certified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
"It would have been a good time for Safi Airways to look at acquisitions during the middle of 2010, when there was a risk of airlines going bankrupt due to volcanic eruptions. European airlines are now trying to make up for the losses incurred in the past. The load factor is overall good compared to the passenger load factor in 2008-09," John Siddharth, industry analyst for aerospace and defence practice at Frost and Sullivan, told Gulf News.