EU blacklists Kazakhstan but Air Astana narrowly escapes

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Europe Commission air safety regulators have extended the blanket ban on air carriers to Kazakhstan and Zambia, although they have eased the restrictions on certain airlines in Indonesia and Angola.

Only Air Astana remains exempt from the European blacklisting of Kazakhstan. In a statement on the updating of its blacklist today the Commission nevertheless says Air Astana's operations into the European Union are "frozen under strict restrictions".

The Commission had already imposed a ban on several other Kazakh operators.

Its blacklist revision adds Zambia to the list of African states whose carriers are completely forbidden from operating in European airspace.

But following progress with Indonesian authorities the Commission has removed flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia, as well as Mandala Airlines, Airfast Indonesia and Premiair from the list.

"Significant improvements and accomplishments of the Indonesian civil aviation authority are recognised in the area of safety," it says.

It has also confirmed that it is lifting certain restrictions on operations by Angolan flag-carrier TAAG, allowing it to operate into Portugal with certain aircraft and in accordance with specific conditions.

As a formality, Thai operator One-Two-Go has been removed from the blacklist but only because its operating certificate has been revoked.

While Yemeni flag-carrier Yemenia's brush with European safety regulators has been highlighted in the wake of the recent Airbus A310 accident in the Comoros, the airline is not facing any restrictions.

European transport commissioner Antonio Tajani, who floated the idea of a global blacklist after the Yemenia accident, says: "We will not accept that airlines fly at different standards when they operate inside and outside Europe - it is high time that the international community rethinks its safety policy.

"Those airlines which are unsafe should not be allowed to fly anywhere. This list has greatly contributed to making Europe's skies safer. We should gradually move towards an international strategy based on co-operation between countries around the world."

While the Commission says that several states, including Ukraine, Russia and Gabon, have made efforts to improve safety standards, there remains a blanket ban on 12 states covering nearly 250 airlines, with only a few exceptions.