Turkmenistan Airlines Banned From European Airspace — Thousands Stranded

Turkmenistan Airlines is one you may not be familiar with, although they do have a fleet of 34 aircraft (including two Boeing 777-200s).

They don’t currently fly to the US, although they do serve a few destinations in Europe, including Paris, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Birmingham and London Heathrow, from their hub in Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan Airline European Union destinations (with Turkey destinations added)

I love plane spotting at Heathrow and have caught some rarer sights, like Air Serbia, Air New Zealand, Air Astana and Gulf Air, although I don’t think I’ve ever actually spotted Turkmenistan Airlines planes at Heathrow.

It seems while they have a five weekly service to Birmingham, they only have a once weekly flight to Heathrow — I’m amazed they can maintain a route with only a weekly frequency.

Ben wrote about his fascination with this airline, and their very unusual booking process a few years back.

On Sunday the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended Turkmenistan flights to and from the EU ‘pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standard.’

This means that with immediate effect, all flights by the airline to and from Europe are suspended. This means those passengers travelling from Europe to Turkmenistan (and beyond) on the airline are required to find alternate transport, and that those passengers due to return back to Europe on the airline must do the same.

The airline is a popular, low cost way to travel between Europe and India (especially Amritsar) and several thousands passengers are reportedly stranded ‘down route’ unable to get home.

Affected passengers should contact the airline for either a refund or a request to reroute, and they may also be entitled to compensation under EU261 regulations per the guide here.

If the airline refuses (and remember they will be dealing with thousands of passengers contacting them to do this) — where passengers have paid using a credit card they may be able to request a charge back from their card issuer, or claim under their travel insurance.

Bottom line

I’d love to know if any readers have ever flown Turkmenistan Airlines as it’s certainly a lesser known airline, even in Europe.

If nothing else this should be a good reminder to everyone of the importance of ensuring you have travel insurance in place before booking flights on airlines like these!

Have you flown Turkmenistan Airlines?

(Featured image via Ken H / @chippyho)

Comments

  1. Visited Turkmenistan in 2017 and flew them between Mary and Ashgabat on a new 737-700 that seemed clean and well maintained. The whole experience felt safe, though I couldn’t help but notice some similarities to Air Koryo. As far as I know, they have a pretty modern all-Boeing fleet, with the exception of two older 757-200s.

    I know they’ve carved out a niche for themselves catering to the Punjabi diaspora between BHX and ATQ (with 5x weekly BHX and 6x weekly ATQ). But apart from a pretty opaque booking process, I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.

  2. @ Joe Chivas – This news was widely reported in every major mainstream news outlet in the UK yesterday, and the image is from Ben’s linked Turkmenistan article from 2017 ; ).

    I also wrote this article yesterday but it wasn’t published until this morning.

  3. Sorry Ben, if you think spotting an Air New Zealand plane at LHR counts as a rare sight you need to try harder!

    Azerbaijan, Beijing Capital, Biman Bangladesh, Royal Brunei, Bulgaria Air – LHR has one of the most eclectic list of airlines operating from it of any airport.

  4. I’ve been to Turkemenistan in 2016. I flew on their 717 between Dashoguz and Asgabat as well as a return Ashgabat-Mary on their 737-700 and just like Michael I felt very safe. The planes were clean and the staff was actually quite good.

    ASB airport was nice and modern but I’ve seen pictures of the new terminal opened a few months later and it looks stunning! To be honest the whole trip was just a crazy but amazing experience!

  5. @Tom: Why Bulgaria Air? They serve many big European airports so I wouldn’t call them eclectic..

  6. @ Tom – Air New Zealand is only once daily! I’m at Heathrow now and can see the Royal Brunei plane in the distance but I’ve seen that many times before!

  7. @ Wingslover, true but from Wikipedia it looks like they have a fleet size of 10 smallish narrow-body planes, hardly a massive operation!

  8. > be entitled to compensation under EU261 regulations per the guide here.

    Unlikely, anyone in the UK should make a S75 claim.

  9. I flew one-way Bangkok – Ashgabat – Frankfurt almost two years ago and the planes were completely full. No working IFE, no smiles from FAs and there was a big framed picture of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov at the front of the cabin, but my expections were zero anyway so I enjoyed the exotic experience.

  10. Uk leaves the European union in 6 weeks time (Brexit!). so in theory they could resume flying to London and Birmingham then!

  11. @analijak haha good one!

    On a more serious note, is this EU aerospace ban or EU routes(landing/takeoff) ban? If is the former then no more flights to Switzerland or UK(unless willing to go around Middle East – North Africa then around the Atlantic Ocean to UK)

  12. Don’t call it “UK”!…. It’s *BRITAIN*…. Nobody outside [Britain] knows what “UK” means.

    And please drop the British spelling – nothing wrong with it, but it brings editorial inconsistency on the site.

  13. @Debit: Actually, we would question why the lameness and irrelevancy of your comments on every post are regurgitated.

  14. Their fleet is made up of only 19 aircraft:

    12x 737 (2x -700s are in VIP config, no specifics)
    3x 757
    3x 777 (one of which is VIP config and opf Turkmenistan Gov)
    1x CRJ-700 (also in VIP config and opf Turkmenistan Gov)

  15. I flew on the Turkmenistan 777 from ASB to PEK back in November. It’s probably the most similar country to DPRK that an American is allowed to visit. I hope Turkmenistan fixes this so they’re allowed to fly on European airspace again.

  16. *Marco* – I laughed at your British spelling comment. The internet is global and so is this site. To ask an Australian to write in American spelling style highlights your provincial mentality. The “UK” is short form for the legal name of “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. Statistically, American spelling is the minority form of English.

  17. @ Marco. Are you for real ? Pitiful The vast majority of people know what the UK is.. especially on a travel blog. Unlike a large swath of the population of the US, who would have trouble finding their own country on a map

    @ David S interestingly, US rhotic English is the form used by Shakespeare in his first folios as that’s how most people ( who could write ) at the time spelled although it wasn’t standardised until later 😉

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