Passenger Turnover Should Reach Million by Year-End
11 November, 2011
Passenger Turnover Should Reach Million by Year-End

Georgian civil aviation market expects increase of passenger turnover up to one million, which will attract low-cost companies and cut down ticket prices. But infrastructure and flight schedule do also matter to this end. 

This year turned out unusually fruitful for Georgian civil aviation market: five new air-companies Bora Jet, Air Astana, ATA Air, China Southern Airlines, and Fly Dubai entered the market, thus increasing number of foreign air-companies to 21 in Georgia, Aleksandre Gachechiladze, Head of Passenger and Cargo Transportation

Department of Georgian Civil Aviation Agency, said.

However, only one out of the five, Fly Dubai, which entered the market on November 5, 2011, is a low- cost company. It offered prices reduced by approximately 25% on Dubai flights, proposing two-way-tickets for USD 270 [about GEL 445] while an average price for similar round flights varied between GEL 400-600.

Till now Georgian Airways has been executing direct flights to Dubai and two Ukrainian-based Ukraine International and Aerosvit have been implementing transit flights to this direction. Georgia Airways usual prices stood at EUR 180-200 [GEL 408-454] for round-flights, Nino Giorgobiani, a spokesperson of Georgian Airways, told Georgian Journal. However, tourist agencies say the price went usually to GEL 600 depending on the order time.

Georgian Airway started a sale action on Dubai flights in late October just before Fly Dubai presentation event on November 4 and suggests round-flights for EUR 59 [GEL 133] by December-end.

“It is not a coincidence,” Giorgobiani claims.  “This is a usual sale action we always practice for different directions depending on seasonal effect; in summer for European flights as it is in greater demand, and in winter - for Dubai and Asian countries.”

However, Georgia still craves for real low cost companies. Fly Dubai and Turkish-based Pegasus [that entered the market in 2010 by EUR 79 on Istanbul flights against the average USD 450 fixed on the flight by Turkish Airlines for almost ten years] do not propose as low prices as classic low-cost companies offer in the European market, conducting flights from Paris to Frankfurt for EUR 3, or flights from Germany to UK for EUR 8.

Official Tbilisi dreams of becoming regional transit hub as well as tourist focal point - a dream hardly possible to realize without low cost companies.

Last year Georgian government tried to negotiate the Irish-based Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier and the 3rd-largest airline in Europe, but without success. Ryanair was supposed to enter the market by unbelievably low prices [about EUR 10-50 on international flights] but small passenger turnover scared the Irish company.

Government expectation is that if passenger turnover reaches million Georgian market will become more attractive to low cost air-companies.

According to Gachechiladze, the targeted million in passenger turnover will be reached by the end of this year. Even 9 months data show a 35% growth in passenger turnover statistics compared to the past year.

“This year turned out unprecedentedly fruitful, five new air-companies have never entered Georgian market in any previous year and we expect the number to increase in near future,” Gachechiladze said.

Fly Dubai top officials appear hopeful to increases their passenger turnover on Dubai flights by 50-100% in a year.

However tourist operators say such an unusual turnover of new air-companies did not cut prices down as yet and prices on Georgian air-market are still by approximately 60% higher than on internal EU flights.

“Yes, Pegasus offers flights to London for example for EUR 110-120 on one-way flights that is cheaper than EUR 600 offered at average by British Midland but it is not a real low cost like you can take in internal European flights,” Nika Erkomaishvili, Director General of Explore Georgia tourist operator company, said.

According to him, besides low passenger turnover there is a couple of other reasons why low cost companies do not come to Georgia. One of the key reasons is lack of infrastructure. Georgia cannot accept 5 million tourists even if they take flights here. Hotel prices are high, while accommodation is not enough for big tourist tide.

Besides the international flight schedule is quite discomforting and distracting. It increases travel costs that also do matter for tourists. Most flights both departure and arrival are implemented on midnight that means tourists should pay extra cost for two nights’ accommodation while they do not use them in fact.

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