200 Passangers stranded at a Maryland hotel WASHINGTON -- Ghana's state-run airline was barred by U.S. officials Tuesday from flying into and out of the United States during an investigation of allegations it ignored orders to ground unsafe aircraft and flew on an expired license. The decision to suspend the airline and the circumstances that led to it are very rare, possibly unprecedented, said Robert Johnson, a Transportation Department spokesman. "We're making a decision that we believe is the first of its kind." In two instances, Ghana Airways used an aircraft that had been ordered grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration because of safety concerns, the department said. The roundtrip flights between Ghana and New York and Ghana and Baltimore took place on July 24 and 26, Johnson said. The airline also allowed its operating license to expire earlier this month but continued unauthorized direct flights since that time, the agency said. "Ghana Airways' recent actions have raised serious questions regarding safety and licensing, which must be answered before the airline will be allowed to resume service to and from the United States," the department announcement said. Ghana Airways was not immediately reachable for comment. Ghana Airways directly links all of West Africa to the United States. The order was effective immediately. A flight scheduled to leave Accra, Ghana, for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport around 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday was canceled. The airline operates two roundtrip flights per week between Accra and New York and two roundtrips per week between Accra and Baltimore Washington International Airport. Passengers have already been affected by the ban. A direct round trip flight scheduled to leave Ghana's capital Accra to New York's JFK airport on Tuesday at 2330 GMT was cancelled. According to Ghana Airways' website, the flights are to be rescheduled.