EU removes Kazakh airlines from its blacklist as all Kyrgyz airlines remain

BISHKEK (TCA) — Among the CIS countries, only Kyrgyz airlines are now forbidden to fly to the European Union, after the European Commission earlier this month updated the EU Air Safety List (the so called blacklist), and all of Kazakhstan’s airlines have been cleared from the list “following further improvements to the aviation safety situation in that country”.

The EU Air Safety List includes airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union.

Airports may be blacklisted

The EU plans to introduce a Safety List for non-EU airports, The Aviation Week reports. One of the reasons for the move is terrorist attacks at the airports of Brussels and Istanbul this year.

The European Commission is analyzing whether it should introduce a list of third-country airports that do not meet EU safety standards and are deemed unsafe to be used by EU airlines or airlines flying to the EU. “We are exploring the possibility. There is nothing concrete yet, but we are considering it and are brainstorming with stakeholders,” European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc told Aviation Daily.

It is expected that the list of airports that do not meet international safety standards will be added to the existing EU blacklist of airlines that are not eligible or have restrictions on flight operations in the EU airspace. Airports of third countries must comply with international standards of aviation security, and these standards should be the same as those of the EU airports.


“I am particularly glad that after years of work and European technical assistance, we are today able to clear all Kazakh air carriers. This also is a positive signal for all the countries that remain on the list,” Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said on December 8.

The situation has not changed for two Kazakh airlines. Since 2009, only partial EU restrictions acted against Air Astana, the country’s national carrier, and the EU lifted them at the end of last year. There is no regional airline Qazaq Air on the blacklist, because it did not apply for flights to Europe.

The clearance of Kazakhstan from the EU blacklist was an anticipated event for the country, Kazakh Investment and Development Minister Zhenis Kasymbek told local media. According to him, the work on the elimination of violations identified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began five years ago in Kazakhstan.

It is now expected that the number of transit passengers between Asia and Europe through Kazakhstan will increase in key airports in the country. The total transit traffic through Almaty and Astana is now 300 thousand passengers per year, and it may reach 1 million passengers by 2020.


All of Kyrgyzstan’s 13 airlines currently remain on the EU blacklist since 2006, along with airlines from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, Congo, and other African countries.

Kyrgyzstan has been an ICAO member since 1992. In order to be taken off the blacklist, the state has to pass through the ICAO audit, which regulates the civil aviation. The basis audit includes such sections as primary aviation legislation, principles of civil aviation organization, aeronautical personnel licensing, operation of aircrafts, airport and ground-based air navigation services, and aircraft accident investigation.

According to the Kyrgyz Civil Aviation Agency (CAA), Kyrgyzstan has already been audited on five sections, of which three were positive. ICAO made 128 comments that need to be addressed in Kyrgyzstan. The country has to pass an audit of airport and ground-based air navigation services and aircraft accident investigation.

International experts praised Kyrgyzstan’s new Air Code that entered into force this year. The new document aims to improve the legal system governing the country’s civil aviation to bring it in line with ICAO standards.  

An ICAO audit is expected in Kyrgyzstan in 2017. To ensure aviation safety, Kyrgyzstan’s airports will be equipped with modern navigation equipment, the CAA said.

According to the Association of Aviation Enterprises of Kyrgyzstan, the State has not paid enough attention to the problems of civil aviation since independence, although this area is important for mountainous Kyrgyzstan where some remote areas can only be reached by air transport, especially in winter. The fact that Kyrgyzstan has been on the EU blacklist for ten years confirms that domestic civil aviation is in a deep crisis, the Association said. During ten years, the number of ICAO comments have not reduced but even increased. In order not to lose the industry, the State has to pay more attention to it.

Kyrgyzstan now has 32 aircrafts and nine helicopters.  According to the CAA, five airlines carry out regular passenger air routes, and the others are involved in freight operations. Almost all aircrafts are privately owned, except for three aircrafts partially owned by the state.