Citing safety concerns, Turkmenistan Airlines has been banned from flying to destinations within the European Union and even from flying over EU airspace.
In the United Kingdom, where Turkmenistan Airlines flies to Ashgabat from both Birmingham and London Heathrow, the Civil Aviation Authority issued the following statement:
Following the decision on 4 February 2019, by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to suspend permission for Turkmenistan Airlines to operate services to the European Union, Turkmenistan Airline flights from Birmingham and Heathrow to Amritsar, and Heathrow to New Delhi – which fly via Ashgabat – are suspended with immediate effect. The UK Civil Aviation Authority is required under European law to withdraw Turkmenistan Airlines’ permit to operate to the UK pending EASA’s restoration of their approval that it meets international air safety standards.
If Turkmenistan Airlines can prove that it complies with “international air safety standards” its operating permission will be restored. Per the UK Independent, most Britons who fly Turkmenistan Airlines are connecting to India.
Although temporary in nature, the sudden bans leaves many passengers stranded across the EU. Turkmenistan flights to Frankfurt and Paris have also been cancelled.
What To Do If You’re Stuck
If you find yourself stuck, don’t panic just yet. This issue may be cleared up quickly. Even if it is not, reach out to your credit card companies to prepare for a chargeback if Turkmenistan does not offer you a viable alternate solution. But do be aware that it is unlikely you’ll be accommodated by Turkmenistan Airlines if you are traveling within the next few days since the airline has so few partners. I know that is not comforting advice, but if you need to be somewhere I would start looking into alternate plans now. Buy tickets on websites like Orbitz or Expedia that come with a 24-hour free courtesy cancellation in case you find a better solution or the problem resolves itself.
Turkmenistan Airlines is one of those exotic airlines I would love to fly, but doing so has suddenly become harder. For the many traveling to/from Europe who now find themselves stranded, I do hope this situation is quickly resolved.
image: Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons