Thousands of passengers have been left stranded after Turkmenistan Airlines was forced to suspend operations to and from the EU.
The airline’s suspension came into force on Monday 4th February, after European Aviation Safety Agency grounded flights, over issues regarding safety.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has announced the suspension of Turkmenistan Airlines’ operations to and from the EU, “pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards,” as published.
The airline has not commented on the suspension, especially as this will affect a substantial amount of flights across Europe such as their services to Birmingham, London-Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, and Riga.
The UK Foreign Office provided a brief summary of this suspension with information about those affected. “EASA has suspended Turkmenistan Airlines flights to and from the EU pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards.”
“This means that Turkmenistan Airlines flights between the UK (London Heathrow and Birmingham) and Turkmenistan (Ashgabat), do not have permission to travel to and from the UK; affected passengers are advised to contact Turkmenistan Airlines to seek advice”.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority gave a comment, with advisory to travellers. “Passengers who have travelled may need to make their own arrangements to return home”.
“Those who have booked but are now unable to fly will have to contact the airline for a refund,” said the UK CAA. “Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit, charge or debit card may alternatively be able to make a claim against their card provider.”
Turkmenistan Airlines is popular among Britain’s Sikh population, with connections to Amritsar, location of the Golden Temple.
Flights linking Ashgabat with Frankfurt and Paris have also been grounded.
Turkmenistan Airlines, which is government-owned, operates a fleet of 19 aircraft with an average age of nine years, consisting of 12 Boeing 737s, three 757s, one 777 and one Bombardier CRJ-700.
The airline handles around two million passengers annually, around 3,000 per day on both international and domestic routes.
Europe is quite an important market for the carrier, and if not resolved swiftly, could see Turkmekistan Airlines begin to lose substantial revenues.
The UK Foreign Office, in particular, has advised contacting the British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission nearer to those affected in order to try and get back home safely.
EASA has not released a statement on this issue yet, although if the safety infringements continue and are significant enough, will be sure to see this status changed.
If a statement is released, it will be intriguing to see what violations have been made and what Turkmenistan are actively trying to do to correct any wrongs.
Although the airline could regain its licence to fly to and from the EU in the future, currently it’s left thousands of travellers’ plans thrown into chaos.
Source : Aviation Safety Network