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EU prohibits N. Korea’s aged planes for six years

Antiquated North Korean airliners have been banned from operating in European countries for six years in a row as part of the European Union’s prohibition on 21 states that have failed to meet its safety standards, a U.S.-funded private radio station reported Tuesday.

Under the EU ban, Pyong­yang’s Air Koryo can only fly two new airliners it purchased from Russia last year to the E.U. member states, according to Radio Free Asia.

The communist North bought two of Russia’s Tupolev-204 planes last year, mainly for the purpose of bringing in tourists from Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries for foreign currency earning purposes, observers say.

Apart from the two planes, dozens of others operated by Air Koryo have been determined by the EU to be too old for safe operation, the RFA said.

The North Korean airline operates about 20 planes that were produced by the now-defect Soviet Union in the 1960s.

An EU official was quoted as saying by the RFA that the ban on North Korea can be lifted as soon as the country operates newer planes that meet the safety standards.

Angola and Congo were among the countries listed alongside Pyongyang on the E.U. prohibition.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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