Turkmenistan Airlines has managed to get itself removed from a list that no airline would ever want to find itself on… the European Union’s Air Safety List of blacklisted airlines. The little known national airline of this Central Asian country found itself suddenly barred from flying to Europe in February after a visit from the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) to Turkmenistan Airlines’ hub in Ashgabat.
Thousands of passengers were said to have been left stranded after the airline was forced to suspend all operations to London Heathrow (LHR), Birmingham (BHX), Frankfurt (FRA) and Paris Charles de Gaule (CDG). Despite the fact that Turkmenistan might not be high up on the list of many travellers bucket lists, the airline did offer incredibly cheap fares for the Indian diaspora to get to Dehli via the Turkmeni capital.
“The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Turkmenistan Airlines flights to and from the EU pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards,” a notice on the website of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office read. The notice is yet to be updated despite the fact that the airline has been given the green light to resume services to the EU since 11th October.
After getting blacklisted, Turkmenistan Airlines called in the services of Lufthansa Consulting – a “comprehensive action plan” covered a number of areas that needed improvement across the airline, including flight data monitoring, ground operations, and in-flight operation.
“The carrier has been committed to raising its performance and took immediate action following the difficulties in satisfying relevant requirements in context with the EU Safety Authorizations for foreign air operators,” a spokesperson for the airline explained.
Officials from Europe’s aviation safety agency started on-site progress visits in August and final approval for Turkmenistan Airlines to be removed from the notorious list of blacklisted airlines came last Friday.
There are currently 120 airlines that are completely barred from flying to the EU – the majority of which are African-based carriers. Surprisingly, Air Koryo – the infamous national airline of North Korea isn’t completely banned from the EU. The airline does have two aircraft that have been specifically authorised to fly to the EU should the need ever arise.