Georgia gets closer to EU air space
25 November, 2010
Georgia gets closer to EU air space

Georgia gets closer to European countries’ air space. Before it joins the unified EU air space, Georgia improves terms of air-partnership with EU countries.
An agreement on Air Services between the Governments of Georgia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland was signed at the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development on November 18, 2010.
The document liberalizes air communication between the signer countries. Regulations on the number of aircraft, number of flights and destinations have

been abolished. Moreover, the document allows the airlines to determine the tariffs for their services themselves.
The agreement is special because it provides the possibility of cabotage - the transportation of goods or passengers between two points in the same country.
A week earlier, on November 8, 2010, Georgia signed an agreement with Czech Republic on flights between two countries. The document is a legal base enabling Georgian and Czech airlines to execute flights between two countries without beforehand planned quotes. The flight regime will also be liberalized according to the document which will enable the companies to determine the number of flights and their tariff.
Vera Kobalia, Minister of Economy of Georgia, accentuated that competition between airlines will increase the level of service, decrease the prices of tickets and all this will have a positive impact not only on the increase of passengers but the growth dynamics of incoming tourists.
Georgia dreams of becoming a regional hub and is focused on liberalization its air-market to attract more air-companies to Georgia. The upcoming agreement with the EU on enrollment the Unified Air-space of EU is supposed to help to this end. The deal is expected to be signed by the end of this year that will increase competition, cut down prices thus laying ground to Tbilisi to become a hub between Central Asia and EU.
However, the prospect of becoming regional hub seems impossible without low-cost companies that still shun Georgian market where the passenger turnover lags behind million to date. Ryan Air, the Irish-based biggest low-cost air-company of the world is negotiating at the moment by Georgian government, but it demands more frequent flights and bigger passenger turnover than Georgia can offer at the moment. Georgian market as of yet Government believes low-cost companies start flights in Georgia as soon as the number of passenger turnover exceeds million [presumably by 2012 as Aleko Gachehciladze, Head of Passenger and Cargo Transportation Department at the United Transport Administration of Georgia explained to Georgian Journal].
According to Levan Elizbarashvili, an official representative of Turkish-based Pegaus in Georgia, frequency of flights and passenger turnover increased by 36% after 2008 irrespective political crisis and war. The trend maintains the growing dynamic that coupled with the liberal market rules makes attractive Georgian aviation market and increase its eligibility for a regional hub.
“Tbilisi may swallow Yerevan, and be attractive to Ganja direction of Azerbaijan where population reaches million people. Tbilisi-Ganja direction is competitive even today [it is within 176 km distance from Tbilisi while there is about 300 km to Baku-GJ],” he said.

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