Airline Wars: Russia-Georgia flights delayed over struggle for lucrative access to Airspace
09 October, 2014
Airline Wars: Russia-Georgia flights delayed over struggle for lucrative access to Airspace
Regular flights between Georgia and Russia were halted in 2008 after the August war. Charter flights resumed in 2010 with Airzena, Sibir and Ural Airlines handling the charter flights.

Regular air traffic between Georgia and Russia will begin again by the end of October after an eight-year interval. The political decision has already been made, but the flights are still being delayed by official paperwork. Some believe that conflicting interests between Georgian and Russian airlines are preventing the launch.
Georgia, the manager and operator company of Tbilisi and Batumi International Airports, recently reported the successful completion of negotiations with Aeroflot, the flag carrier and largest airline company in Russian Federation over the restoration of regular flights between Moscow and Tbilisi as of October 27.
According to TAV Georgia, Aeroflot will be implementing regular flights everyday. TAV also reports ongoing negotiations with another Russian company, Ural Airlines, to begin regular flights on the same Moscow-Tbilisi-Moscow route since October 27. Ural Airlines are expected to implement flights twice per week on Mondays and Wednesdays. The company is implementing charter flights at the moment for Moscow-Kutaisi and Tbilisi-Yekaterinburg routes.
According to Rosaviation, The Federal Agency of Air Transport of the Russian Federation, five more Russian air-companies VIM Airlines, Globes, Sibir, Transaero, and UTair are also expected to have regular flights to Georgia. From the Georgian side, Georgian Airways largely known as Airzena is expected to implement direct flights. Airzena, which is currently running charter flights on a Tbilisi-Moscow-Tbilisi route every day, is also interested in regular flights. The Georgian company has already appealed to Rosaviation to allow to regular flights but so far it has not been approved.
On the other hand, the Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia does not confirm the official approval of regular flights for any Russian company including Aeroflot. It is just considering the paperwork, Aleksandre Gachechiladze, Head of the Air Transportation Department at Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia, said to Georgian Journal.
In the meantime, according to the website Aeroflot, the company has already begun the sale of tickets for flights starting October 27, 2014. The cheapest economy class tickets at promotion charge of 194.78 euros are completely sold out until September of 2015.
Rosaviaiton announced the restoration of regular flights with Georgia with seven Russian companies on September 15. However, the Georgian side did not confirm the news. Gachechiladze elaborates that Georgian and Russian aviation bodies agreed on the restoration of regular flights between Tbilisi and Moscow at the first phase but the actual flights’ launch was protracted because Moscow did not provide the necessary paperwork on time.
Giorgi Kodua, Chairperson of the Union of the Georgian Civil Aviation and owner of Sky Georgia, which went bankrupt in 2012, believes there is a certain conflict between Georgian and Russian airlines behind the screens. According to him, the restored regular flights between Georgia and Russia are based on the status-quo of 2008 when the flights stopped and when the flight frequency between countries was agreed 10 to 10. Now as both Airzena and Aeroflot want to implement 7 flights per week they need a flight frequency of 14 to 14.
“Most likely the Georgian side is lobbying for Airzena’s interest to secure 7 flights per week, while Aeroflot as a big company will never agree to just 3 flights per week. It also needs daily flights. I think there is a bargaining going between the sides and this is the reason the regular flights launch is delayed,” Kodua said in the interview to GJ. He does not believe that the Georgian side will allow all seven Russian airlines to enter the Georgian market and develop competition that may hurt Airzena. Airzena refrains from commenting on the issue at the moment.

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