* State airline had fatal crashes in 2008 and 2010
* Venezuela slams decision, may take reciprocal steps
By Daniel Wallis
CARACAS, April 3 The European Union banned
Venezuelan state airline Conviasa on Tuesday from flying in the
27-nation bloc over safety concerns in a move that Venezuela's
government said was disproportionate.
The European Commission said in a statement that Conviasa
was added to its latest list of carriers banned from operating
in member states "due to numerous safety concerns arising from
accidents and the results of ramp checks at EU airports."
Siim Kallas, a senior EC official, said the Commission stood
ready to help countries overcome any safety difficulties with
their airlines as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
"In the meantime, safety comes first. We cannot afford any
compromise in this area," Kallas said in a statement.
Conviasa had been operating a twice-weekly service between
Caracas and Madrid. Most of its flights are to domestic
destinations and cities within South America and the Caribbean.
In September 2010, the airline suspended its flights for a
two-week revision of safety standards following a turboprop
crash that killed 17 people and two emergency landings the same
In 2008, a Conviasa Boeing 737 crashed in mountains in
Ecuador, killing the three crew members on board. It was not
Last year, Venezuela's government revamped its Transport
Ministry to address problems in the sector, including air
Caracas said on Tuesday the EC ruling was unfair and that it
might take reciprocal measures.
"The decision ... is totally disproportionate and runs
counter to the considerations made by the International Civil
Aviation Organization, regarding the conditions for the safe
operations of Venezuela's civil aviation," the Foreign Ministry
said in a statement.
"The government ... is evaluating what reciprocal and
proportionate steps it will take to safeguard the prestige the
state airline holds before the Venezuelan people and the
(Editing by Sandra Maler)