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EU takes Philippine airlines off safety blacklist

Philippine planes are to be allowed back into Europe, the European Union announced on Thursday. The EU transport commissioner said that Philippine airlines will be removed from its safety blacklist.

"After 5 years of hard work we are finally able to clear the airlines certified in the Philippines from the European Air Safety List," EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a statement.

"The Philippines is an important country with a sizeable and rapidly growing aviation sector," she added. "Today's result can serve as an example for other countries which have difficulty to match their safety oversight capabilities with the growth of their industry."

Philippine airlines were blacklisted by the EU in 2010 after the United Nations and US aviation authorities found "serious safety deficiencies."

The EU had already lifted the safety ban on flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) in July 2013, and last year also released Cebu Pacific, the country's largest airline.

"This is truly breaking news since it is the first time that the entire aviation sector of one country is removed from the European Air Safety List," said Lubomir Frebort, the EU charge d'affaires in the Philippines.

While the seven carriers mostly serve routes inside Asia, Eric Apolonio, a spokesman for the Philippine civil aviation authority said the EU decision would still benefit them, since it would give them the option of flying to Europe.

Previously, European insurance companies would not cover people who flew on airlines on the EU Air Safety List.

"European tourists will be encouraged to use low-cost carriers in the Philippines now," boosting the number of visitors who will want to fly around the archipelago, Apolonio told news agency AFP.

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