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Georgian Airways to conduct direct flights to Moscow from May 24

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, May 19
Airzena-Georgian Airways will carry out direct charter flights between Tbilisi and Moscow from May 24, head of its press service Nino Giorgobiani said on Tuesday. She said that the Russian Transport Ministry had approved Airzena’s request. “We have received permission from the Transport Ministry to conduct charter flights from May 24 to November 1. We are planning to conduct 3-4 flights a week, depending on the number of passengers,” Giorgobiani told journalists.

Russian media outlets later reported, based on a statement by the Russian Transport Ministry, that no such permission had been given. The Ministry’s Press Service said that officials were discussing the request, however “no final decision has been made.” In response Georgian Airways said it had “written permission” sent by the Russian Ministry to hand. “It appears that the Transport Ministry press service has not been notified about the decision in time,” Giorgobiani said. The Russian Transport Ministry itself then confirmed directly that it had given permission to Airzena to conduct direct charter flights between Tbilisi and Moscow. “The Ministry permitted the Georgian air company to conduct flights from May 24 to June 9,” RIA Novosti quoted the Ministry representative as saying.

Direct flights between Georgia and Russia were suspended in 2006 due to the aggravation of relations between the countries and then briefly restored in 2008. However flights were again stopped after the August 2008 conflict. The Russian Transport Ministry permitted direct charter flights between Tbilisi and Moscow during the Christmas and New Year period and at Easter. Tbilisi-Moscow-Tbilisi flights were conducted from January 8 to 10 and on April 1, 2, 3, 10, 12 and 14.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Russian side does not see any in-principle difficulty in restoring direct air flights between Georgia and Russia. “We have satisfied the requests of the Georgian air company to conduct direct charter flights during the holiday periods. We do not see any in-principle problems in permitting regular air flights as well,” Lavrov stated.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said earlier that if agreement is reached between the private air companies Tbilisi would be ready to resume regular air flights between Georgia and Russia. “It was not Georgia which suspended flights to the Russian Federation,” Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia Nino Kalandadze said in March. “We want all our citizens, and other interested parties to have access to air transport. If it is in our interests and relevant interest is expressed by the Russian Foreign Ministry, and the private air companies reach agreement, we are ready to permit direct air flights,” Kalandadze stated.

Georgian Airways said that tickets to Moscow are already available. “Flights to other Russian cities might also be added to the schedule if there is passenger demand,” Giorgobiani noted on Tuesday.

The first flight to Moscow will be conducted from Tbilisi International Airport at 14:30 on May 24. The return flight from Moscow to Tbilisi will depart at 18:00.