The Italian civil aviation authority (Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile - ENAC) has announced it will suspend Ernest Airlines' Operating Licence (OL) in early 2020.

"The licence remains in effect until January 13, 2020, in consideration of the current holidays, as well as the Ukrainian New Year falling on January 7, 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," the regulator said.

ENAC did not disclose the reasons for the OL's suspension but highlighted that the move now bars Ernest from selling tickets. An OL governs an airlines' financial standings rather than operational safety, which is the basis for the Air Operator's Certificate (AOC).

"We are taking all the actions aimed at obtaining the revocation of the same provision. Meanwhile, in compliance with the provisions of the Authority, sales of transport contracts have been blocked starting for flights departing from 13 January," Ernest Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Ilza Xhelo told ch-aviation.

"If the carrier provides guarantees as required by EU rules and they are favourably assessed by ENAC, the suspension measure could be revoked. ENAC will continue to monitor the airline in order to verify the adoption of all possible initiatives to protect passengers' rights," the Italian authority said.

Ernest Airlines currently operates one A319-100 and three A320-200s serving two key markets from Italy - Albania and Ukraine. It operates to Tirana from eight Italian cities. In Ukraine, it serves Kyiv Igor Sikorsky, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odesa.

Editorial Comment: Added Ernest Airlines' statement. - 29.12.2019 - 14:54 UTC