Airlines Banned in the European Union

The Blacklist of Carriers Not Allowed to Operate Within the EU

airplane in flight
••• Aaron Foster/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Each year, the European Union (EU) releases its latest Air Safety List, which is comprised of airlines that don't meet international safety standards and are therefore either banned from operating in the region or must operate under what's known as Annex B restrictions.

The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted by the region in December 2015. Before you fly, it may be a good idea to see what airlines are simply not considered European airport-worthy.

The list is reviewed periodically, meaning it may be amended to exclude or include carriers that meet or fail to meet safety regulations. However, before adding any state or airline to the list, the European Parliament must meet with EU regulatory agencies, community institutions, regulatory oversight authorities for the airline concerned, and representatives for the air carrier itself, who can appeal the Parliament's decision before it is officially added to the list.

Airlines Added and Removed in 2017 and 2018

When planning your trip, it's important to keep in mind the list does change from time to time as some airlines improve their safety records while others worsen. For example, airlines certified in Benin, Mozambique, and Indonesia have all been cleared from the blacklist following both countries' further improvements in aviation safety.

However, airlines Med-View (Nigeria), Mustique Airways (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Aviation Company Urga (Ukraine), and Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) were added to the list due to unaddressed safety deficiencies were detected by the European Aviation Safety Agency during an assessment. Eight airlines were added to the list in 2017 and 2018 based on safety concerns with regard to their operations:

  • Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran)
  • Iraqi Airways (Iraq)
  • Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname)
  • Med-View Airlines (Nigeria)
  • Mustique Airways (St Vincent and the Grenadines)
  • Aviation Company Urga (Ukraine)
  • Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
  • Avior Airlines (Venezuela)

In 2017, another six airlines were placed under Annex B restrictions and can now only fly to the EU with specific aircraft types:

  • Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires SN2AG (Gabon)
  • Air Koryo (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)
  • Air Service Comores (Comoros)
  • Iran Air (Iran)
  • TAAG Angola Airlines (Angola)

Countries With Blacklisted Airlines

As of 2018, the EU Air Safety List contains over 200 airline carriers from 16 countries or states that are either banned outright or placed under restrictions for operating within European airspace. The following countries have bans on one, a few, or all of the airlines regulated by their national aviation department:

  • Afghanistan: all airlines banned
  • Angola: all airlines banned except TAAG Angola Airlines
  • The Republic of Congo: all airlines banned
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo: all airlines banned
  • Djibouti: all airlines banned
  • Equatorial Guinea: all airlines banned
  • Eritrea: all airlines banned
  • Gabon: all airlines banned except Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires Gabon, both of which are restricted by aircraft type
  • Iraq: Iraqi Airways banned
  • Iran: Iran Aseman Airlines banned
  • Kazakhstan: all airlines banned except Air Astana
  • Kyrgyz Republic: all airlines banned
  • Liberia: all airlines banned
  • Libya: all airlines banned
  • Mozambique: all airlines banned
  • Nepal: all airlines are banned
  • Nigeria: Med-View Airline banned
  • Sao Tome and Principe: all airlines banned
  • Sierra Leone: all airlines banned
  • St. Vincent & Grenadines: Mustique Airways banned
  • Sudan: all airlines banned
  • Suriname: all airlines banned
  • Ukraine: URGA banned
  • Zambia: all airlines banned
  • Zimbabwe: all airlines banned

There are several other airlines that have flight restrictions for travel into EU countries, but are not entirely banned from flying in and out of Europe:

  • Angola: TAAG Angola Airlines restricted by aircraft type
  • Comoros: Air Service Comores restricted by aircraft type
  • Gabon: Afrijet Business Service, Nouvelle Air Affaires Gabon restricted by aircraft type
  • Iran: Iran Air restricted by aircraft type
  • Kazakhstan: Air Astana restricted by aircraft type
  • North Korea: Air Koryo restricted by aircraft type
  • Madagascar: Air Madagascar restricted by aircraft type

If you're booking travel originating in any of these countries and terminating in a member state of the EU, you can avoid scams by making sure the airline is allowed to operate in the European Union. Be sure to only book through authorized airlines and vendors or you could end up stranded abroad.