Iran Air Wins Removal of Most Operating Restrictions in Europe

  • EU allows Iranian flag carrier to use most of its aircraft
  • Zambia, Madagascar, Indonesia also gain from blacklist changes

The European Union lifted most of its restrictions on Iran Air as part of the latest changes to the bloc’s list of unsafe carriers.

The EU also removed Air Madagascar, three more Indonesian operators -- Citilink, Lion Air and Batik Air -- and all airlines based in Zambia from the aviation blacklist. The easing of curbs on Iran Air follows a visit to Tehran by European transport chief Violeta Bulc in April and an EU technical assessment in May.

Iran Air will be allowed to use all its aircraft except Boeing Co. 747 and Fokker 100 planes when flying in the 28-nation EU, the European Commission said on Thursday in Brussels. Previously, Iran Air had been permitted to use only 10 Airbus Group SE A300 and two Airbus A310 planes in Europe.

“I am happy to announce that we are now able to allow most aircraft from Iran Air back into European skies,” Bulc, who’s in charge of transport at the commission, the EU’s executive arm, said in a statement. The changes are due to be published in the bloc’s Official Journal on Friday.

The European blacklist was first drawn up by the commission in 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 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, companies’ use of antiquated aircraft 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 intent on keeping out unsafe foreign airlines can use the European list as a guide for their own bans.

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