EU boost for Cebu Pacific, Air Astana

The EU aviation blacklist features 20 countries and 294 airlines
The EU aviation blacklist features 20 countries and 294 airlines

Cebu Pacific Air and Air Astana were two of the major winners this week when the EU updated its aviation blacklist.

Following the removal of Philippine Airlines from the blacklist last year, Cebu Pacific has now been cleared to launch flights to Europe. And the EU has also removed all restrictions on Air Astana, allowing Kazakhstan’s national carrier to add more flights and launch new routes to EU countries.

All other airlines in the Philippines and Kazakhstan however, remain banned from EU airspace, but Swaziland’s carriers have been removed from the blacklist.

Air Astana’s president, Peter Foster, said he was “delighted” with the announcement and confirmed the airline is now planning to expand its European operations.

“The EU Air Safety Committee’s decision… reflects the enormous amount of hard work that Air Astana staff have put into ensuring that flights are operated safely and in accordance with best international practices,” Foster said. “The airline can now plan for more flights to Europe, with Paris and Prague both new destination priorities for launch in late 2014/early 2015.”

Air Astana is now planning flights to Paris and Prague
Air Astana is now planning flights to Paris and Prague

Swaziland was completely removed from the blacklist, but a total of 20 countries and 294 airlines remain banned from EU skies. Fourteen of these countries are in Africa and six in Asia. Of the Asian countries, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal remain subject to blanket bans, while Indonesia, Kazakhstan and the Philippines have some restrictions.

“When countries do what it takes to ensure the safety of their aviation industry, it is important that the EU recognises these efforts,” said the European Commission’s vice president for mobility & transport, Siim Kallas. “The proof is the aviation safety progress we are witnessing in Africa. Swaziland is now the second country, after Mauritania, to be removed from the EU safety list. Promising progress was also noted in Zambia, Mozambique, Sudan, and Libya.”

The easing of EU restrictions has enabled Garuda Indonesia and Philippine Airlines to launch flights to Europe in recent years. And along with Air Astana’s expansion plans, Cebu Pacific has also expressed interest in flying to Europe in future.

Countries banned from EU skies:

Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Equatorial Guinea
Gabon (partial)
Indonesia (partial)
Kazakhstan (partial)
Philippines (partial)
Sierra Leone
Sao Tome & Príncipe

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