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European Airlines To Increase Flights To Armenia

European Airlines To Increase Flights To Armenia
Armenia - The new flight terminal of Yerevan's Zvartnots international airport, 16Sep2011.
Armenia - The new flight terminal of Yerevan's Zvartnots international airport, 16Sep2011.

At least three European airlines have agreed to increase the frequency of their regular flights to Armenia following the bankruptcy of the Armavia national carrier, the country’s main international airport announced on Wednesday.

Armavia terminated its flights to more than 40 destinations in Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East as it filed for bankruptcy on Monday. The private company cited its inability to end massive losses and repay debts to Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport and other partners.

In a written statement, an Argentine company managing Zvartnots expressed serious concern over the development that was anticipated for the past several months. It said it is now “actively working” with foreign airlines in an effort to “fill possible gaps that have emerged in the market.”

The statement added that the Zvartnots management has already reached agreements with some of them. It said the flagship carriers of Austria and the Czech Republic will now fly to Yerevan from Vienna and Prague respectively on a daily basis. Italy’s Alitalia, for its part, will carry out flights from Rome to Yerevan three times a week, according to the statement.

The Zvartnots management also announced that Poland’s LOT airline will resume its regular flight service to the Armenian capital in June. “Discussions are also underway with other airlines regarding increasing the frequency of their flights,” it said.

It was not clear if Russian carriers are among them. Russia, which is home to the largest Armenian Diaspora community in the world, accounts for most of the air traffic to and from Armenia.

Armavia filed for bankruptcy less than a month before the expiry of its exclusive rights to international flights to and from Armenia, which were granted to it by the Armenian government in 2004. Foreign airlines have since needed Armavia’s permission to fly to the country.

The government has still not clarified whether it will transfer those rights to another airline or liberalize the aviation sector altogether. The latter measure has long been advocated by government critics blaming Armavia’s privileged status for what is widely regarded as a disproportionately high cost of air travel to Armenia.

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