Air Astana seeks way around EU blacklist impasse

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Air Astana is seeking to add new aircraft to a list of those exempted from the European Union's blanket ban on Kazakh airlines.

The Kazakh flag-carrier, having successfully pleaded a case for special consideration from the ban in July 2009, is subject to a partial restriction. This allows the airline to fly in Europe but not to expand its operations. Under this arrangement tail numbers of Air Astana's fleet were placed on a list of aircraft exempted from the blacklist.

However Air Astana president Peter Foster says that, as the airline has been taking delivery of new aircraft, they have been unable to place them on the list.

"Because of the nature of the bureaucracy it appears to be very difficult to change things," he says. The situation means the airline cannot yet use its new aircraft for operations into Europe.

Foster says the airline is "engaged in dialogue with Brussels" and adds: "We are hopeful that some of the restrictions will soon be eased. We are hoping, at the very least, that our new aircraft can be placed on the list of those allowed to fly to Europe."