Banned airline leaves thousands of passengers stranded

Thousands of passengers have been left stranded after air regulators grounded Turkmenistan Airlines for safety reasons.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority said flights from Birmingham and London’s Heathrow to Amritsar, and Heathrow to New Delhi – which fly via Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – had been suspended.

The CAA acted after the European Aviation Safety Agency suspended permission for it to fly in the EU. It also flies from Frankfurt and Paris.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the European Aviation Safety Agency had suspended the airline’s flights to and from the EU “pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards”.

“This means that Turkmenistan Airlines flights between the UK (London Heathrow and Birmingham) and Turkmenistan (Ashgabat), do not have permission to travel to and from the UK,” the FCO said.

Affected passengers are advised to contact Turkmenistan Airlines to seek advice, the FCO said.

The budget airline also offers flights from Birmingham and London Heathrow – via Asghabat – to various other locations such as Bangkok and Beijing.

The CAA said: “Passengers who have travelled may need to make their own arrangements to return home”.

It lists Air India, British Airways, Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Turkish Airlines as potentially offering alternative routes.

Those who have booked but are now unable to fly will have to contact the airline for a refund.

“Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit, charge or debit card may alternatively be able to make a claim against their card provider,” the CAA said.

Those who booked through an airline ticket agent, should speak to the agent in the first instance, the CAA said.

The was no obvious information on the company’s website which also appeared to be allowing new bookings still to be made.