EU blacklists Kazakhstan but Air Astana narrowly escapes

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European Commission air safety regulators have extended the blanket ban on air carriers to Kazakhstan and Zambia, but have eased 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, the Commission says Air Astana's operations into the European Union are "frozen under strict restrictions".

air astana 
 © Air Astana
Air Astana is the only Kazakhastan carrier to remain exempt from the EU blacklist

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

Its revised blacklist adds Zambia to the 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, 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.

The Commission has also confirmed 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formality, Thai operator One-Two-Go has been removed from the blacklist, but only because its operating certificate has been revoked.

Although Yemeni flag-carrier Yemenia's brush with European safety regulators has been highlighted following 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 the international community rethought its safety policy.

"Airlines that 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."

Although the Commission says several countries, 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.

Meanwhile, the idea of a global blacklist of airlines has not been supported by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which has reiterated its view that such moves do not prevent accidents.

After the 30 June crash of a Yemenia Airbus A310, European transport commissioner Tajani floated a proposal to expand EU standards beyond its borders. Yemenia's safety regime was previously under scrutiny by the European Commission's air safety committee, but in the end no sanctions were issued against it. ICAO council president Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez was reported to have said recently that the blacklist concept was not a solution at global level.