LONDON – On January 11th 2020, Italian operator Ernest Airlines has suspended its operations following having its operating license being temporarily suspended by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, ENAC. 

The airline released a few statements on their website about the suspension and have said the following, “Following the provision of the National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) of 29 December 2019 regarding the temporary suspension of our operating license, we find ourselves unable to operate flights as of 11.01.2020. We therefore ask all our passengers not to go to the airport”.

Ernest continued, “We have done everything possible to be able to operate and guarantee as many of our flights as possible during the holiday period, and to assist passengers who have travelled or had to fly with us during these two weeks and who have unfortunately suffered delays or cancellations. Unfortunately, the provision released on 29.12.2019, resulted in a series of events, which caused various blockages and difficulties to our operations”.

Ernest Airlines’ last flight was from Lviv, Ukraine to Milan Bergamo, Italy on 10th January 2020 with their Airbus A320-233 registered as EI-GCC as flight EG277.

Ernest Airlines had four Airbus aircraft, one Airbus A319 and three Airbus A320’s. All four aircraft have since been returned to their lessors on 11th January 2020. The return flights were as follows – 

  • Airbus A320-232, EI-LIN was ferried to Amman, Jordan.
  • Airbus A320-233, EI-GCC was ferried to Lourdes, France.
  • Airbus A320-214(WL), EI-LIX was ferried to Lourdes, France.
  • Airbus A319-111, EI-FVG was ferried to Shannon, Ireland.

The ferry flights were operated on their own or by ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) airlines such as Albastar and SmartLynx. The aircraft were also ferried under EG/ERN flights numbers and utilised their own airline crews.

“The license remains in effect until January 13th, 2020, in consideration of the current holidays, as well as the Ukrainian New Year falling on January 7th, 2020, and the consequent need to guarantee the protection of passengers’ best interests, given that there are no imminent critical issues that may jeopardise operational safety”, said ENAC.

ENAC or Ernest have neither disclosed the reason for the license being suspended, however, the operating license is what governs the airlines financial standing rather than the safety of the airline, which is governed by the Air Operators Certificate (AOC).

This news will make Ernest Airlines’ the first airline to go into administration in 2020.