National carrier Turkmenistan Airlines resumed flights to the European Union on Saturday after a 10-month hiatus triggered by an EU ban.

An AFP correspondent in Turkmenistan saw 50 passengers line up to check in for the airline's 0700 GMT flight to Frankfurt, one of the EU destinations it served before the European Aviation Safety Agency ban.

The exact reason for the ban on the carrier remains unclear.

An EASA response emailed to AFP this month said it had been lifted in October after ‘a successful on-site audit of Turkmenistan Airlines in Ashgabat’.

The EASA said it ‘verified that the reasons that led to suspension of the airline's TCO authorisation on 4th February 2019, issued by EASA, had been corrected by the airline.’

The EU body did not comment further.

The suspension caused chaos in early February as passengers with onwards flights were unable to contact the company.

Britain's Punjabi community, who used the Turkmenistan Airlines flight transiting via Ashgabat to reach the Indian city of Amritsar from London and Birmingham, were particuarly afected.

Turkmenistan is an energy-rich but authoritarian former Soviet state with a poor human rights record and a fully state-controlled media.

The government-run airline was set up in 1992, Turkmenistan's first full year of independence.

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