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13.02.2006 General News

Lebanon bans air carriers from Ghana ....

By The Daily Star Middle East

..... and 37 other countries for lack of proper security and safety measures BEIRUT: Lebanon's Civil Aviation Authority announced last week that it has banned air-carriers from a total of 38 countries from operating out of Rafik Hariri International Airport. The barred airlines were cited for failing to implement adequate security and public safety measures, and for non-compliance with international standards.

Carriers from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ecuador, Angola, Chad, Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea, Congo, Libya, Kyrgystan, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, and Iraqi A6-ZYC crafts are among those forbidden to travel.

The announcement preceded the International Conference for Civil Aviation Security in Arab Countries that took place in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, where representatives from the Arab Civil Aviation Commission and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) convened to discuss regional aviation security.

Participants recommended the creation of an independent team of aviation security experts to monitor compliance with safety regulations.

The conference also called for appointing a Civil Aviation Arab Commission to develop regional air-travel legislation, and to finance the development of technical support programs promoting airport security. The recommended commission will also be charged with appointing experts and with funding the security monitoring body.

The director general of the Civil Aviation Organization Hamdi Shawq represented Lebanon in the 3-day conference along with Captain Osama Balaa from Middle East Airlines.

Jalal Haidar, president of Aviation Security for ICAO said: "Rafik Hariri International Airport is one of the best airports in the world in terms of its design. There is also evidence that its security standards are among the best regionally and internationally."

He added that the security and administration teams are "highly competent and have great experience."

Haidar said that ICAO had recently conducted a security evaluation at the airport, and the results were encouraging.

Shawq added: "The results and recommendations of the conference will positively reflect on the status of our airports and countries here in the Arab world, and the conference organizers believe that Lebanon has taken an important step in ensuring safe air travel."

He also noted that Lebanon's airport "will undoubtedly benefit from this conference because there will be a unified network of information between the Arab countries."

Next week, an ICAO team will arrive in Beirut to do a follow-up on Lebanon's compliance with international safety standards.

Despite the positive developments in regional air-travel, Lebanon's airline industry was dealt a blow when the Committee of Air Traffic Controllers issued a statement last week refusing to work night shifts in March 2006. The committee said "it will complete the required hours according to decree number 3559 dated October 21, 1980."

The decision was prompted by the airport administration's refusal to comply with a decision passed by the Shura Council late 2005 that said airport workers are entitled to overtime wages they have accumulated since 1975. "The administration is still insisting on not calculating the night shift hours as part of the controller's work schedule," the statement said.

Due to the air traffic controller's work stoppage, air-travel will stop from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily from March 1, 2006 until overtime salaries accumulated since January 1, 2001 are paid. - With Naharnet © 2006 The Daily Star