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EU bans some Pakistani airline planes

BRUSSELS, Belgium --Pakistan International Airlines will be limited to flying its Boeing 777 planes into the European Union due to safety concerns about the carrier's other, older planes, the European Commission said Monday.

The latest update of the EU's airline blacklist bars PIA from using its aging Boeing 747, Airbus 310 and other aircraft on the lucrative European routes. The B-747s and A-310s and other smaller aircraft account for the vast majority of the airline's aircraft inventory of over 40 long-range and regional aircraft.

In Islamabad, PIA spokesman Nasir Jamal said the restrictions on the Boeing 747 and Airbus 310s were only being "temporarily applied" and they would be able to fly again once they have been upgraded

"These two types of aircraft may resume their flights once necessary refurbishment and cabin up-keeping is completed in a given time frame that is as soon as possible," Jamal said.

He said EU transport experts advised the airline to use its newer planes on routes to Britain and Frankfurt.

PIA was considered one of the best airlines in the developing world in the 1960s and 1970s. Critics blame the slide in quality and maintenance standards on government interference in the airline's operations.

The EU executive cleared a Thai airline and another from Uganda to resume flights into the 27-nation European Union after they improved safety measures.

Phuket Air and DAS Air Cargo/Dairo Air Services were removed from the EU's blacklist after rectifying "serious safety deficiencies which had originally led to their banning from Europe," an EU statement said.

The EU will also consider allowing in some Russian flights from nine companies "under exceptional circumstances and on the basis of tight checks," the EU statement said.

Last month, Moscow banned the airlines from flying to the EU after consultations with EU officials. The companies are Aero Rent, Tatarstan, Atlant Soyuz, Aviakon Zitotrans, Centre Avia, Gazpromavia, Lukoil, Russian Sky (Russkoe Nebo) and Utair.

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