EU safety chiefs lift ban on Philippine Airlines

Posted at 07/10/2013 6:42 PM | Updated as of 07/10/2013 7:00 PM

BRUSSELS -- The European Union said on Wednesday it had lifted a ban on Venezuelan state airline Conviasa and Philippine Airlines from flying in the bloc because their safety standards have improved.

The change by the European Commission, the EU executive, updates an EU blacklist, which still includes 280 airlines from 20 countries.

Conviasa was banned in 2012 due to "serious safety deficiencies." This provoked complaints from the Venezuelan government which said the decision was unfair.

The carrier had been operating a twice-weekly service between Caracas and Madrid. Most of its flights are to destinations within South America and the Caribbean.

The Commission banned the Philippines carrier in 2010, followed a downgrading by the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority to category 2 from category 1 on safety ratings.

"Today we confirmed our willingness to remove countries and airlines from the list if they show real commitment and capacity to implement international safety standards in a sustainable manner," EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said in a statement.

Kallas also said he saw "good signs of progress" from a number of African countries, such as Sudan and Mozambique.

In a separate decision the Commission said it would invest 600 million euros ($767.16 million) in technology to help make flying safer and cut down on air traffic jams.

Projects which will be funded include an extended airport radar scheme that allows planes to reduce or increase speed as they approach airports, based on the level of air traffic, preventing time-wasting circling of runways.