The only national carrier of Turkmenistan, former Soviet republic, Turkmenistan Airlines was banned from performing flights to European Union. The decision appears to be quite unexpected, considering airline’s flawless history – not a single crash or even a serious close-call since its establishment in 1992.
According to the travel notice, placed by British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on January 4, 2019, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended all the Turkmenistan Airlines flights to European Union countries.
UK Foreign Office notice says, at the moment EASA is pending a confirmation that Turkmenistan Airlines complies with the international air safety standards. No other explanation was provided. However, the airline wasn’t included in the black list of airlines banned within EU just yet.
Until the confirmation is received, the measure applies to the following UK routes: from Amritsar (ATQ) to Birmingham (BHX) and Heathrow (LHR) (extremely popular with the British Punjabi ethnic group), and from New Delhi (DEL) to Heathrow, both flying via Ashgabat (ASB). Apart from UK, routes that are linking Ashgabat with Frankfurt (FRA) and Paris (CDG) have also been halted.
The Indian-UK connection, provided by the carrier, was one of the cheapest options for the route. That is why the ban was particularly tangible in the UK – where it has already affected approximately 5,000 British citizens staying India with bookings for the return flight, as Independent writes. Passengers are asked to contact Turkmenistan Airlines customer support for advice, but no information is given on the official airline’s website.
Turkmenistan Airlines performs regular flights to Europe and Asia. The airline also planned its European extension, hoping to open new routes to Austria, Hungary and Spain until 2030.