The European Union has lifted the ban on central Asian carrier Turkmenistan Airlines. The operator was banned from flying in the EU in February as it was deemed to not be meeting international air safety standards. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced the reinstatement of its flying rights late yesterday.
The ban was originally instigated following a visit from EASA to the Turkmenistan Airlines Ashgabat hub earlier in the year. During the visit, questions were raised about compliance with international standards, leading to the airline being placed on a blacklist.
Cleared, with help from Lufthansa Consulting
Following the EASA ban, the airline has been said to have taken immediate action to improve its position. It immediately undertook an assessment of the situation and developed a recovery plan. Working together with Lufthansa Consulting, Turkmenistan Airlines made dedicated efforts in safety, flight operations, maintenance and quality.
In a press release regarding the lifting of the ban, a statement said,
“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 – EASA TCO at the beginning of this year… They went the extra mile to achieve the goals.”
During the process, the airline stayed in regular contact with EASA, presenting progress reports to the responsible team. Finally, the airline scheduled the required formal visit by EASA to assess current operations. As a result, the ban was lifted as of the 11th October. However, it was only publicly reported by EASA yesterday.
Lufthansa Consulting’s Managing Director Dr. Andreas Jahnke commented on the improvements the airline has made, saying,
“Together with our client Turkmenistan Airlines we are delighted and proud of jointly having achieved this great success to reauthorize the airline as Third Country Operator. There are certain tasks to be done by the operator to ensure sustainable implementation of the measures and Lufthansa Consulting is looking forward to continuing the fruitful cooperation.”
EASA confirmed to Reuters that the inspection revealed the airline had resolved all the issues that led to the suspension of its operations.
Resuming flights from October 26th
Reuters further reports that the airline will begin flights to Europe again on October 26th, with its first destination slated to be Frankfurt in Germany. Back when the airline received the ban, it left thousands of passengers stranded, as it was forced to cancel all flights to Europe.
Previously, the airline operated to Heathrow and Birmingham in the UK, Paris and Frankfurt. It’s likely we’ll see the return of a number of these services in due course, although those valuable slots at Heathrow will likely be gone for good.
As the flag carrier of Turkmenistan, the airline provides a vital link for its own nation to these European hubs. It was also known for low cost fares to various parts of India, and previously transported around 3m passengers per year. It uses a mixed fleet of 777s, 757s and 737NGs, and is expecting to receive its fourth 777 in the coming year.