Two Air Koryo Jets Back in EU Good Books

Air Koryo, North Korea’s flag carrier, has been given back partial permission to fly in EU airspace following the quarterly update to the EU’s list of banned airlines.

The lifting of restrictions against the airline is highly conditional, only allowing for entry by two of the airlines’ mostly Soviet-era fleet.

According to European Commission press release IP/10/388 which was released yesterday, March 30th;

“With this update, the Air Koryo licensed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, subject to an operating ban since March 2006, is allowed to resume operations into the EU with two aircraft which are fitted with the necessary equipment to comply with mandatory international standards and following appropriate oversight by its authority. The rest of its fleet remains barred from operating into the EU.”

The two aircraft permitted to operate in EU airspace are a Tupolev Tu-204-300 delivered to Air Koryo in 2007 and currently serving on the Pyongyang-Beijing route, and a Tu-204-100B.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas also said in yesterday’s statement, “Safety comes first. We are ready to support countries that need to build up technical and administrative capacity to guarantee the necessary standards in civil aviation. But we cannot accept that airlines fly into the EU if they do not fully comply with international safety standards.”

It is unclear whether Air Koryo plans to exercise its right to enter the EU, though there have been rumors that it plans to begin some kind of service between Pyongyang and Berlin.