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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 13:39 GMT
EU approves air safety blacklist
Wreckage of a crashed passenger plane
The EU wants to avoid a serious loss of life in a member nation
European Union transport ministers have backed a blacklist of airlines that fail to meet safety requirements as part of plans to protect travellers.

The list was proposed after a summer in which more than 500 passengers were killed in plane crashes worldwide.

Previously, airlines banned in one EU nation could operate in others. The new rules will close this loophole.

The blacklist will be available online and passengers will have to be informed if they are to fly on a named carrier.

They will also be able to claim compensation should their airline be included on the list after they bought their ticket, or their carrier is changed to a firm that is on the list.

Worldwide reach

Companies will have a chance to defend themselves against the allegations of safety deficiencies, and the list will be updated every three months by the EU's aviation safety agency.

Laws supporting the blacklist, which have already been approved by the European Parliament, are expected to come into effect early next year.

Last month, EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said he hoped the blacklist would help ease consumer concerns about airline safety.

Lists of problem operators already exist in the UK, Switzerland, France and Belgium.

Some of the airlines banned are based in countries including Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, North Korea, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia.

"Air carriers are included on the list if there is verified evidence of serious safety deficiencies," the EU said in a statement.

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