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Turkmenistan Airlines Barred From EU Over Safety Concerns

The carrier is the second state-owned Central Asian airline facing a big financial hit this year. 5 February 2019

Thousands of passengers were left stranded as Turkmenistan Airlines stopped flights to the European Union yesterday.

 

The European Aviation Safety Agency suspended the airline's flights to and from the EU yesterday "pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards."

 

The state-owned carrier is popular with British and Indian flyers for its low-priced flights linking the two countries. The UK Civil Aviation Authority said flights from Birmingham and London Heathrow to India via Ashgabat had been suspended, the BBC reports.

 

As many as 5,000 British passengers were in India with bookings to fly home on the airline, the Independent said yesterday.

 

The CAA said stranded passengers might have to make their own arrangements to return to the UK.

 

A plane from the Turkmenistan Airlines fleet. Image via Simon butler/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Turkmenistan Airlines also flies from Frankfurt and Paris.

 

The airline is the second Central Asia flagship carrier to hit turbulent air in the new year.

 

Tajikistan’s state-owned Tajik Air was forced to suspend all flights last month until at least March because of its inability to pay its fuel supplier.

 

The Tajik news agency Asia-Plus traced the airline’s difficulties to high fuel prices and the unstable economic situation.

 

 

  • Turkmenistan Airlines is a bigger operation than Tajik Air. According to Airwaysmag.com, its fleet numbers 19 aircraft, chiefly Boeing 737s and 757s, and it handles around 2 million passengers annually.

 

  • The airline operates five flights a week from Birmingham to Ashgabat and one from Heathrow Airport, with a majority of the passengers connecting to services to India, the Economic Times writes.

 

  • There is a glimmer of light in the offing for Turkmenistan’s stuttering economy, Eurasianet.org writes. Exports – primarily gas – to its foremost trade partner, China, rose last year to $8.1 billion, almost 25 percent higher than in 2017. Chinese demand for gas is expected to remain high.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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