• EU lifts ban on PAL flights to Europe

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    The European Union (EU) said on Wednesday that it will allow flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) to resume flights to Europe after banning it for almost three years.

    The announcement was made late on Wednesday by EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines in the presence of CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss and other agency officials.

    EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said the flight ban will be lifted effective this Friday.

    From June 3 to 7, an EU team was in the country to assess the country’s aviation safety measures and determine if the Philippines should be removed from the EU airline blacklist.

    “This is a confirmation of the great work performed by our Filipino partners, especially CAAP and Philippine Airlines, in addressing air safety issues. It is a real pleasure to congratulate General Hotchkiss and his team personally for the extraordinary work they have done,” Ledoux said.

    An EU statement, confirmed the lifting of the ban in a statement. “Following improvement s in the safety situation in the Philippines, Philippine Airlines is the first airline from this country allowed back into European skies since 2010,” it said.

    Ledoux congratulated Hotchkiss for his role in lifting the sanctions which is expected to boost trade and tourism between the Philippines and European countries.

    Earlier, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said that he was hoping that the validation of EU representatives in the Philippines will lead in the country being removed from the union’s blacklist.

    Ledoux said “an assessment by ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] in October 2012 showed improvements. Progress regarding the implementation of safety measures by two main airlines of the country, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific were also noted.”

    In February 2013, another ICAO audit found that the Philippine aviation agency has taken sufficient corrective actions to meet international standards. The United Nations organization removed all remaining significant safety concerns in April 2013.

    PAL President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Ang said the lifting of the ban opens PAL flights to prime European destinations such as Paris, London, Amsterdam and Rome.

    The country is also looking for a higher aviation safety rating from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before the end of the year.

    Earlier, President Benigno Aquino 3rd ordered CAAP to work to remove the country from the EU and FAA watchlists.

    In 2008, the FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 status for not complying with international aviation safety standards. Category 2 prevents airlines from the Philippines from adding new routes to the US.

    The aviation industry has been hoping that the FAA would restore the country to Category 1 status, which would certify that it has fully complied with international air safety standards.

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