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Europe removes Philippines from air ban

BRUSSELS: The European Commission (EC) has removed all Philippine-registered airlines, including Air Asia Inc., from its newly updated list of carriers banned from operating in EU airspace.

The news follows reports that Air Asia Group chairman Tony Fernandes is to take a more "hands on" role in running the airline he created.

A320neo Air Asia Violeta Bulc, EU commissioner for Transport said: "After five years of hard work we are finally able to clear the airlines certified in the Philippines. Today's result can serve as an example for other countries that have difficulty to match their safety oversight capabilities with the growth of their industry. I am also pleased to see that other countries made good progress too. The commission is continuously monitoring developments in third countries to ensure that airlines flying into the EU are up to the highest safety standards."

The updated EU Air Safety List includes 232 airlines from 20 states including Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nepal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Zambia.

Additionally, the list includes eight airlines that have restricted operations to and from the EU: Air Astana (Kazakhstan), Afrijet and SN2AG (Gabon), Air Koryo (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros), Iran Air (Iran), TAAG Angolan Airlines (Angola) and Air Madagascar (Madagascar).

The EC says its list is based on airlines that are either considered not to be able to respect international aviation safety standards, or "whose civil aviation authorities are deemed unable to provide the necessary safety oversight as foreseen by international aviation safety rules".

Aviation supports 5.1 million jobs and contributes €1 billion a day to European GDP, adds the 'Commission.

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