France discovered that a Colombian airline had been fined for safety violations only after a crash last week that killed 152 French people from Martinique, the national civil aviation director said in an interview published Monday.
Michel Wachenheim, general director of France's Civil Aviation Authority, told Le Monde newspaper that Colombia did not notify any no other governments when it fined West Caribbean Airways US$45,000 (Ђ36,800) in January, the AP informs.
"If we had known, it might have provoked a reaction for us, like asking Colombian authorities for more information," he was quoted as saying.
But Wachenheim added that under current international policy, each country is responsible for monitoring its own airlines and does not have to share details of security failings.
"There is little circulation of information among countries because a certain number of states aren't favorable to it," he said.
The airline's safety record is being scrutinized after the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 crashed in Venezuela on Aug. 16 while bringing passengers home to the French Caribbean island of Martinique after a weeklong trip to Panama. Eight Colombian crew members were also killed.
In January, the airline was fined for more than a dozen violations, including pilots flying too many hours without rest, insufficient crew training and failure to log flight data.
Based on the International Civil Aviation Organization's security audits of airlines in 181 countries, about 30 nations have insufficient safety measures, Wachenheim said, adding that Colombia is not among them. Of them, 15 nations have serious failings, he said.
The list of countries is not made public.
"That's a political decision to be taken at the international level," he said. "It's not up to France to make this information public."