ArmInfo. The lack of air legislation in Armenia may disintegrate the new air carriers, Dmitry Atbashyan, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Air Transport Policy of the Armenian Public Council, Chairman of the National Aviation Association, said at a press conference on March 29.
"We are the only country having neither developed air legislation nor any Air Laws Regulations. I hail the creation of new air carriers. But like the previous ones, these companies will also go bankrupt unless any normal air laws are adopted," he said.
The expert criticized the "open skies" policy, which resulted in "disappearance of aviation" in the country. "During the Karabakh war, we had dozens of planes of our own and nearly 600 Armenian pilots. Many of our pilots made some 600 flights to Karabakh during the war, carrying fuel and weapons and evacuating the wounded. Today our pilots have to be scattered across the globe," he said.
"A country that lacks its own aviation cannot be considered an independent state. Those who have destroyed the aviation are criminals," Atbashyan.
Armenia airline is expected to launch regular flights on April 21. The first destinations are Tel-Aviv and Moscow. According to the General Department of Civil Aviation of Armenia, the founders of the "Armenia" air carrier are Ashot Torosyan (51% stake), Tamaz Gaiashvili (24%) and Robert Hovhannisyan (25%). Tamaz Gaiashvili is the founder of the Georgian "Airzena" company and the former chairman of the company's Board of Directors, while Robert Hovhannisyan is the former deputy chairman. Air Armenia is also going to get back to the market. In March 2016, the company's creditors approved the sanation program, which implies rehabilitation of the infrastructure, acquisition of 4 planes on lease at the expense of the funds of the East Prospect Fund, including 2 SRL-700 planes (78 seats) and 2 A320 planes (150 seats). The company intends to redeem its debts within the next 24 months: the asset-backed debts will be repaid following the sale of property, with the remaining part of the debt to be redeemed in the order stipulated by the Armenian Law "On Bankruptcy". In August 2015, Air Armenia received US$68.6 million from East Prospect Fund in exchange for 49% of its shares.
To recall, the national air carrier of Armenia - Armavia - suspended its flights on 1 April 2013 and launched the bankruptcy procedure. In 2014 the same happened to Air Armenia. On October 23, 2013, the Armenian government approved the programme implying provision of competitive and long-term air transportation services in the country. The program is based on a joint study of McKinsey & Company and National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia. The "open sky" policy that was announced in the country in 2013 sparked a large-scale exodus of foreign companies from the Armenian market. Consequently, due to the high prices of air tickets, many Armenian passengers prefer to make use of the services of neighboring Georgia, where there are several low- cost European companies.