ArmInfo. In Jan-Sept 2016 versus Jan-Sept 2015, the passenger flow through Zvartnots airport grew by 7.1% to 1,542,500 people mostly due to the open skies policy, Anna Chobanyan, Head of the Air Traffic Regulation Department of the Armenian General Department of Civil Aviation, said at a press conference on November 1.
Chobanyan recalled that in late 2013 Armenia announced its accession to the open skies policy. Over this short period of time, several positive changes have been registered: the passenger traffic and the frequency of flights have increased, new foreign air carriers have entered the market and the air ticket prices have dropped. In September 2016, the passenger flow through Zvartnots airport grew by about 30% as compared to Sept 2015. The cargo traffic rose by 76% to 11,477 tons. "One can clearly see that we are flying to many destinations at much lower tariffs, which are different from those before 2013", she said. "The flow of Armenian passengers who flew to other countries via Georgia has considerably declined," she noted, without specifying any figures.
She pointed out that the open skies policy, which was criticized in Armenia, was adopted in Georgia as early as in 2005. Over the past decade, Georgia worked hard to offer more favorable conditions regarding certain destinations. As a result, Armenian passengers choose Georgian airports. Chobanyan said that there are Turkish air carriers on the Georgian aviation market, which ensure transit operations through the Istanbul airport and farther on very profitable terms. At the same time, there is a certain vacuum in terms of flights to European destinations. But efforts are being exerted to this end, she said.
On 23 October 2013, the Armenian Government approved an open skies program, or a program ensuring provision of competitive air services in Armenia. The program is based on the joint survey of McKinsey & Company and the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia. The open skies policy caused withdrawal of a number of foreign air carriers from the market. Due to the high air ticket prices, many Armenian passengers prefer the air services of neighboring Georgia, where there are several European low- cost companies. In 2014, 2.082.755 passengers flew from Armenia and to Armenia (up 18.5% versus 2013). However, in Jan-Nov 2015 versus Jan-Nov 2014, the number of the passengers who made use of Zvartnots airport services fell from 1.896.807 to 1.726.545, and the cargo traffic declined from 9.478 to 8.604 tons. In 2015, Aegean Airways, Georgian Airways, Iraqi Airways, Al Naser, Mahan Air, Middle East airways, S7 Airlines, Czech, LOT, Saratov Airlines and Ural Airlines carried out flights to Armenia. Nordwind Airlines, Ikar (PEGAS FLY) announced the launch of sale of regular flights from Domodedovo airport (Moscow) to Yerevan. The Russian Pobeda low-cost air carrier and Brussels Airlines have announced their entry to the Armenian market.