Safety authorities have banned all carriers from the Philippines and Sudan from operating to the European Union, and have also place restrictions on Iran Air.

But the European Commission has confirmed that limitations on North Korean state operator Air Koryo will be eased.

In the latest revision to its airline 'blacklist' the Commission has imposed a blanket ban on the Philippines, a decision which blocks long-haul services into Europe by flag-carrier Philippine Airlines.

While the Commission has acknowledged efforts by Philippine Airlines and another carrier, Cebu Pacific, to ensure safe operations, it says it must "follow the principle of precaution" given safety concerns related to the country's authorities.

"We are ready to support countries that need to build up technical and administrative capacity to guarantee the necessary standards in civil aviation," says new European transport commissioner Siim Kallas, adding that local authorities have been trying to reform the Philippines' civil aviation system.

"But we cannot accept that airlines fly into the European Union if they do not fully comply with international safety standards."

Philippine Airlines 777-300ER

Sudan has similarly received a complete air transport ban, owing to "persistent non-compliance" with such standards.

Ramp checks on Iran Air - which has been subject to US Government sanctions - have turned up evidence of "insufficient oversight" over the past year, says the Commission.

But Iran Air will still be permitted to operate 18 Airbus A300/310s, nine Boeing 747s, six Airbus A320s and a single Boeing 737 into Europe.

The Commission says it will send representatives to Iran over the next few months to examine the situation with Iran Air.

While North Korea's Air Koryo has been banned since 2006, the delivery of two Tupolev Tu-204s has resulted in this long-term restriction being eased - although the remainder of its fleet remains barred.

Angolan flag-carrier TAAG has also been granted freedom to perform a greater range of European services, although it is still only permitted to use its Boeing 777 and 737-700 aircraft.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news