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Europe

Belgium to Step Up Inspections of Onur Air

The Belgian transport minister has entered the fray surrounding Turkish airline, Onur Air. On Thursday, Dutch and German authorities grounded the airline, citing "serious safety deficiencies."

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Turkey says there's no reason for the carrier to be grounded

Belgium's Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt said authorities planned to step up inspections of planes belonging to Onur Air banned from flying in several European countries for safety reasons.

"Every plane will be checked thoroughly. We do not want to take any risks," Landuyt told the Belga news agency late Friday.

No time limit on ban

His comments came after Dutch, German, French and Swiss authorities announced this week that they were banning Onur Air flights because of safety concerns.

Swiss and French authorities said the ban was effective until further notice.

On Thursday, Dutch authorities informed the Istanbul-based Onur Air that it had been grounded for a month due to "serious safety deficiencies observed in respect of aircraft, operational procedures and aircraft handling," according to a copy of the Dutch decision obtained by AFP.

German authorities followed suit shortly after, telling the company in a fax obtained by AFP that all granted permissions had been "revoked with immediate effect due to severe safety concerns." It did not say how long the ban would be in effect.

Airline officials on Friday threatened to file a lawsuit over the restrictive measures while Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said a meeting between civil aviation officials from the countries concerned was scheduled for Monday in the Netherlands to settle the dispute.

Onur fights back

Onur airlines on Saturday rejected claims that its planes were unsafe and vowed to fight the ban.

"The safety claims are not fair. We ourselves would not allow a plane to fly if it had any faults," the airline's deputy chairman Sahabettin Bolukcu told Reuters news agency.

He added that as many as 50,000 passengers had been affected by the disruption to Onur's service, though many had reached their destinations via other airlines.

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