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EU Parliament backs airline safety blacklist

The European Parliament yesterday backed the creation of a blacklist of airlines that are considered too unsafe to fly within the 25-nation European Union (EU).

After a spate of accidents earlier this year which prompted calls for quicker work on a blacklist, the European assembly agreed to a compromise bill hammered out with the EU's executive Commission.

The new rules will enter into force at the start of 2006, with EU member states telling the Commission which airlines are banned from operating in their territory. Then the Commission will draw up the blacklist, based on common criteria for banning airlines.

France, Belgium and Britain have already published lists of grounded carriers due to poor safety records. But an airline banned in one EU state can still land in a neighbouring country.

Four fatal crashes in August alone killed more than 330 people worldwide.

EU transport ministers meeting on December 5 must approve the plan for it to become law.

Under the EU plan, an airline passenger booking a flight must be told the name of his or her carrier.

If the airline is subsequently put on the blacklist, the passenger would be entitled to reimbursement of the ticket or a flight with a different carrier.

Britain has blacklisted airlines from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Tajikistan.

It has denied permits to Air Mauritanie and Thai airline Phuket Airlines due to safety concerns.

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