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EU puts ban on Iran jets


EU puts ban on Iran jets

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BRUSSELS – The EU banned most of Iran Air’s jets from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, emphasising today that the move was not related to UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.The 27-nation bloc also relaxed restrictions on two airlines from Indonesia and put a Suriname airline on its blacklist of carriers the EU believes do not meet international safety standards.The list of 278 airlines – mostly small operations from Africa and Asia – was established in 2006 and is updated regularly.Iran Air’s Boeing 727s and 747s, along with its Airbus 320s, have been placed on the EU blacklist following a safety audit, Transport Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said.But Kearns denied that the move, which affects two-thirds of Iran Air’s fleet, had anything to do with international sanctions.“We deal purely with safety requirements,” she said. “Our controls focus entirely on safety, nothing else.”Iran Air has had trouble properly maintaining its aging Boeing 747 and 727 jets purchased in the 1970s because of a 30-year-old US ban on spare parts.The airline – together with a cargo and a low-cost subsidiary – has more than 60 planes in its inventory. Plans call for many of its older airliners still in service to be replaced by Russian-built Tu-204 medium-range jets starting in 2011.Iran Air flies to about 60 destinations, mainly in Asia and Europe. Its extensive domestic network covers nearly two dozen airports.In Tehran, Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Nooshabadi called the EU decision “unfair”, saying his company will continue contacts with the EU to remove the ban, the official Irna news agency said today. (AP)