US removes Philippines from air safety blacklist

pilMANILA: The US Federal Aviation Administration has removed the Philippines from its air safety blacklist, Manila said yesterday, opening the door for its airlines to expand services to the United States.

The FAA decision comes after the European Union in July 2013 lifted its own ban on flag carrier Philippine Airlines after it upgraded safety standards. “From one major achievement to another in a span of less than two years, the country has made great strides in enhancing its aviation industry to one that is at par with the best in the world,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said in a statement.

The upgrade will have a significant impact on the country’s economy, boosting tourism, trade and business relations, he added. The FAA put the Philippines on its “Category 2” blacklist in 2008, saying it had failed to comply with international safety standards. This resulted in Philippine carriers being banned from expanding their services to the United States. The EU in 2010 banned all Philippine carriers from flying to Europe for similar reasons.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s only carrier with flights to the US, had been allowed to continue services but under heightened FAA surveillance. In a separate development yesterday, the EU lifted the ban on the Philippines’ budget carrier Cebu Pacific from flying to EU member nations. —AFP

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