September 27, 2008

Croatian Ministry Responds to US Embassy Statement on Aviation Safety

Text of report in English by Croatian state news agency HINA

ZAGREB, Sept 26 (Hina) - The evaluation by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the Croatian Civil Aviation Administration and its having been assigned Category 2 does not refer to the security of transport services of Croatia Airlines or other airlines in Croatia, nor does it mean that it is not safe to travel to Croatia, and the assignment of Category 2 will not affect regular air transport in the country, the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure said in a statement on Friday.

The statement was issued in response to a statement released on Thursday by the US Embassy which said that the FAA had assigned the Croatian Civil Aviation Administration Category 2, after an evaluation carried out in January. The category is based on the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which Croatia does not meet.

The ministry said that Croatia had not carried out the procedure of categorisation prior to the FAA's evaluation and that its being put in Category 2 is not a setback in itself because uncategorised countries have the same status in practice, just like those sharing that category.

The reason for the evaluation was the need to assess the safety of international civil aviation in Croatia, in connection with the implementation of a "Code Share" agreement between United Airlines and Croatia Airlines, signed in late 2007.

The safety evaluation procedure and the assignment of Category 1 or Category 2 is a process which some current EU countries (Poland, Bulgaria) have undergone as well and it is expected to continue with a repeated evaluation, says the ministry.

This has been the standard procedure of the US aviation authorities since 1992 and it is in line with the International Aviation Safety Assessment programme, with emphasis on the monitoring of the entire aviation safety system, rather than individual airlines.

"Work is under way to establish a Civil Aviation Agency as the main instrument in removing the identified departures from US criteria... The agency is expected to be fully operational in the first half of 2009, which will contribute to removing these problems and facilitate efficient monitoring of air traffic in Croatia," the ministry said.

The ministry added that the FAA had confirmed its readiness to continue cooperating with Croatian aviation authorities so that Croatia could enter Category 1 as soon as possible.

Originally published by HINA news agency, Zagreb, in English 1527 26 Sep 08.

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