Safi Fights EU Ban

THE EUROPEAN Union has initiated a blanket ban on all Afghan-operated flights into European airspace as a result of the government’s failure to comply with the EU’s demand for it to establish its own Civil Aviation Authority.  The ban came into place on November 23 and has been applied across all scheduled traffic, irrespective of individual airlines’ safety standards.
Afghan carrier Safi Airways is attempting to circumnavigate the ban by establishing its own European operation.  A statement issued by Safi said: “To resume its Frankfurt service with its own aircraft as quickly as possible, Safi has notified the EU commission that it is currently in discussions to acquire a European company in order to bring its fleet under European aviation supervision.”  By re-registering its fleet, Safi would again be able to fly into European airspace.
Werner Borchert, Chief Executive Officer of Safi Airways said: “Operating Safi as a European carrier is not such a major step for us.  We have always flown in accordance with EU standards.”  Safi’s jets are maintained by Lufthansa Technik and the company employs mainly European pilots, managers and technical specialists.  The ban comes at the worst possible time for Safi; since September 2010 it had been making an operational profit and achieving 82% load factors on the Frankfurt-Kabul route.  While negotiations continue on a prospective purchase of an as yet unnamed airline, it is being forced to wet-lease aircraft to enable it to maintain its Frankfurt rotations.  It has signed a deal with the Madrid-based charter company, Privilege Style that saw a Boeing 757-256s being ferried from Madrid to Kabul on November 25, 2010 for the carrier’s rotations to Frankfurt.