BRUSSELS, The European Commission has removed Mozambican air companies from its blacklist of airlines which are not allowed to operate in the airspace of the European Union (EU).

The Commission said in a statement here Tuesday that it had decided that Mozambican airlines have been cleared from the list following further improvements to the aviation safety situation.

The EU’s Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, said: “I am glad that we are able to take all carriers from Benin and Mozambique out of the air safety list. Their reforms have paid off. This is also a signal to the 16 countries that remain on the list. It shows that work and co-operation pays off. The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency are ready to assist them and raise the safety standards worldwide.”

Following the update, 181 airlines from 23 countries are prohibited from flying in the skies above EU countries. Mozambique was first put on the list in 2011, not because of any safety problems with Mozambique Airlines (LAM) or any other Mozambican air company, but because the regulator, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Authority (IACM), was accused of not meeting EU standards.

The ban did not have any practical effects, as LAM does not have the capacity to operate any inter-continental flights. The only EU airline to fly to Maputo is the Portuguese company, TAP, which has a code sharing arrangement with LAM.

The other companies operating inter-continental routes from Maputo are Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

A distinct possibility now exists of direct connections between Mozambique and France. Mozambican Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita and French Ambassador Bruno Clerc signed an agreement in Maputo earlier this month which creates the legal basis for regular air links between the two countries.

Flights between Mozambique and France do not necessarily mean between Maputo and Paris. French territory also includes the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, and one Reunion-based company, Air Austral, is interested in establishing regular flights between Saint-Denis and Maputo. This company could possibly reach a reciprocal arrangement with LAM.