• Air Moldova's Air Operator's Certificate has been suspended due to not having aircraft with valid airworthiness certificates.
  • The only aircraft Air Moldova has is currently undergoing maintenance and has not been able to complete the scheduled work since April.
  • The airline's decline can be attributed to various factors, such as alleged corruption in the former management, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closure of Ukrainian airspace due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Civil Aviation Authority (AAC) of Moldova has declared the suspension of Air Moldova's Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) due to the absence of aircraft with valid airworthiness certificates.

Moldova's national airline operates with only one Airbus A320-200 aircraft bearing the registration 9U-MLD. This A320, which is 18.5 years old, has been undergoing maintenance since April 2023, but the scheduled work has not yet been completed.

Airlines lacking an aircraft airworthiness certificate are not eligible to possess an AOC. Air Moldova's A320 navigability certificate expired on August 21, 2023. Air Moldova's AOC suspension will remain in place until October 31, 2023. In a statement, the country's aviation regulator added:

"In the context of the cancellation of all flights by the private air operator Air Moldova, we urge passengers to reclaim their rights, requesting the air operator to reimburse the cost of tickets. Requests and complaints will be directed to the airline company, and later, in case of an unsatisfactory result, to the Civil Aviation Authority."

Operational challenges

This year for Air Moldova has not been successful. In early May 2023, the airline suspended all operations and submitted an application for an accelerated company restructuring to the court. The accelerated restructuring is viewed as a potential solution to prevent the airline from entering bankruptcy and to address its operational and financial challenges.

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Pending court approval, the restructuring process will facilitate potential investments in Air Moldova. Stakeholders are prepared to inject approximately $50 million into the airline.

Air Moldova Airbus A320 taking off
Photo: AlenKadr/Shutterstock

Yet, these investments are contingent upon the completion of the restructuring procedure, as failure to do so could expose the airline to potential claims from existing creditors.

Factors leading to decline

Previously, Air Moldova has offered flights to more than 16 European destinations. However, several factors have contributed to the airline's decline. Based in Chisinau International Airport (KIV), the carrier has openly shared the circumstances contributing to its current predicament.

Chief among these is the conduct of the former management, which allegedly involved corruption and misuse of authority. The legal proceedings against these former leaders initiated due to these allegations, were initially slated for December 2021 but have faced repeated delays.

Air Moldova's headquarters in Chisinau
Photo: Robson90/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated Air Moldova's challenges. The reduction in flights during 2020 and 2021 substantially impacted the airline's financial performance.

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In addition, Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine altered the airline's trajectory, mainly due to its substantial presence in the Russian market. The conflict resulted in the closure of Ukrainian airspace and a reduction in flights for the carrier. This region had previously been the most lucrative for the airline.

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Source: Moldova CAA