(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The European Aviation Safety Agency does not intend to blacklist Israeli airlines, the Transportation Ministry announced Sunday.
In a meeting between EASA and Israel Civil Aviation Authority officials last Thursday in Brussels, the European representatives assured their Israeli counterparts that they would not degrade the security ratings of El Al, Arkia, Israir and Sun d'Or, and expressed their satisfaction over the measures taken by the ICAA to improve flight security, a ministry communiquÃ© said.
The Israelis also presented the EASA with their plan to regain the American Category 1 safety rating after the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Israel's air safety system to a third world Category 2 level last December.
The Europeans stressed the importance of Israel in continuing to preserve a high level of aviation security as a condition for its airlines' status in the EU.
Last month, Channel 2 reported that the EASA had sent the ICAA a warning via e-mail that if its flight safety did not improve, the European agency would blacklist the Israeli airliners.
This would have prohibited them from landing at European airports, and perhaps even from flying over the continent. Flights to the US could also have been cut as a result of such a conclusion.
The FAA cited "severe security shortcomings in Israel's Civil Aviation Authority" and a range of security defects at Ben Gurion International Airport as its reason for the downgrade of the safety rating.
Aviation experts have warned that the FAA's lowering of Israel's security ranking would adversely affect the image of Israel-based airlines in the US and Europe, as well as their profitability.
Gil Sasson contributed to this report.