EU Removes Philippine Air, Conviasa From Access Blacklist

The European Union lifted a three-year-old flight ban on Philippine Airlines Inc. and a 15-month prohibition on Venezuela’s Conviasa under the latest changes to a list of unsafe carriers.

The EU said oversight improvements by aviation authorities in the Philippines and the ability of Philippine Airlines “to ensure effective compliance with relevant aviation safety regulations” justify allowing the carrier to fly in the 28-nation bloc. It said Conviasa, Venezuela’s state airline, resolved “serious safety deficiencies.”

The decision leaves unchanged the EU’s ban on all other Philippines-based airlines including Cebu Air Inc. (CEB), Southeast Asian Airlines Inc. and Zest Airways Inc. The bloc put all Philippine carriers on its blacklist in March 2010, citing shortcomings in the Asian country’s regulation of the industry. Conviasa was added in April 2012 because of “numerous safety concerns” resulting from accidents and European ramp checks.

Countries and airlines can be removed from the list “if they show real commitment and capacity to implement international safety standards in a sustainable manner,” European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement today in Brussels.

Philippine Airlines may start flying to EU destinations as soon as September, President Ramon Ang said today in Manila. The carrier is preparing to fly to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome and Madrid, he said.

“This welcome development signals the westward expansion of our international route network,” Ang said after the EU announcement.

This is the 21st update of a blacklist first drawn up by the European Commission in March 2006 with more than 90 airlines, mainly from Africa. The ban covers passenger and cargo carriers from nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Liberia and Sudan.

Airline Crashes

Airline crashes in 2004 and 2005 that killed hundreds of European travelers prompted EU governments to seek a uniform approach to airline safety through a common blacklist. The list, updated generally twice a year, is based on deficiencies found during checks at European airports, the use of antiquated aircraft by companies and shortcomings by non-EU airline regulators.

In addition to imposing an operational ban in Europe, the blacklist can act as a guide for travelers worldwide and influence safety policies in non-EU countries. Nations that are home to carriers with poor safety records can ground them to avoid being put on the EU list, while countries keen to keep out unsafe foreign airlines can use the European list as a guide for their own bans.

In its last update in December, the commission removed carriers certified in Mauritania from the list because of “exceptional progress” made by the authorities there. In its statement today, the commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, said “good signs of progress are also coming from a number of other African countries.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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