ArmInfo. I do not think that the goal of Russian low- coster ''Pobeda'' is to dump local air carriers. Otherwise, it would not be allowed to Armenian airline market, Head of Flight Regulation Division of General Department of Civil Aviation Anna Chobanyan expressed this opinion at a press conference on November 1 answering to ArmInfo's question that Russian low-coster may oust Armenian air company ''Armenia'' from the market.
Russian ''Pobeda'' low-cost carrier (member of Aeroflot Group) was given a permit to make flights from Moscow to Gyumri, the second largest city of Armenia. The flights will be carried out during the day time three times a week and the ticket prices will start from 10 thousand drams (nearly 20 USD). The problem is that according to the Head of General Department of Civil Aviation (GDCA) Sergey Avetisyan Pobeda has submitted application also for carrying out Minvodi-Yerevan-Minvodi and Voronezh-Yerevan-Voronezh flights. Armenian ''Armenia'' company operates on the first route and plans to launch flights on the second route in December. Experts state that for the nth time Russian air companies by setting lower tariffs oust local air carriers from the market. ArmInfo's several attempts to get any information in the press service of ''Pobeda'' air company failed. The company, <dumping policy> of which raised in Yerevan serious concerns, prefers to keep silence and does not answer to questions.
Meanwhile, Chobanyan assures that if the fact of dumping is proved the issue will be settled within intergovernmental agreements and conventions in relevant agencies. Chobanyan recalled that ''Armenia'' and ''Taron Avia'' (conducts freight forwarding) two local air carriers currently operating on the market entered the airline market in 2015 when Open Skies policy was already in force and they realized it. Chobanyan explained that this means that the companies have relevant potential to confront competitors as the Armenian government has chosen policy of non- assistance to local air carriers and 'zero' restrictions for foreign airline companies. ''Open Skies'' policy does not envisage any assistance by the government to any local, Russian and European airline company'', the specialist stated adding that even in European countries there is a liberal regime for all the airline companies and no assistance is provided to them, which is however a very doubtful argument.
However, CEO of ''Armenia'' airline company Robert Hovhannisyan considers that Open Skies policy does not cancel intergovernmental agreement between Armenia and Russia, according to which the air carriers should enjoy equal competitive conditions and none of the companies should have dominant position. According to him Armenia airline had quite other plans at the beginning of its operation on the Armenian market. ''The company's business plan was developed for conducting more flights including Europe with more number of planes. However, it turned out that there is not protection of the market from unfair competition by the government and administration of the General Department of Civil Aviation'', he stated. According to Hovhannisyan the company did not hope to receive any preferences but only to be protected from dumping and enjoy equal conditions for all the air carriers as GDCA promised during the negotiations.
Thus, according to Hovhanissyan Austrian Airlines pays $1000 for service in Zvartnots airport, and ''Armenia'' airline should also pay the same price. ''If Russian Vim Avia pays $500 in Domodedovo airport the Armenia as Armenian air carrier should pay $500 in Vnukovo but never $5000'', Hovhannisyan stated. At the same time he pointed at the official document published in Russia for foreign and local air carriers, according to which if the prime cost of Yerevan- Moscow-Yerevan flight is calculated it is by $10-12 thousand lower for Russian air carrier compared to the Armenian one. At the same time Hovhannisyan clarified that if Armenia company complains about dumping by Russian companies the Russian side will state that it operates on cost price, while the Armenian air carrier can not do the same. Meanwhile, there are leverages over Russian airline authorities as the intergovernmental agreement between Armenia and Russia on setting equal conditions is violated. Hovhannisyan emphasized that the company had applied to the GDCA in December 2015 on the matter, however did not receive any answer till today. '' I do not state that the Russian companies are dumping prices on the market as I do not possess certain data but I want to emphasize that the Armenian authorities do not control the process at all'', the Head of ''Armenia'' company stated.
''Armenia'' company that carries out flights on Yerevan-Minvodi-Yerevan route may soon compete with Russian low cost company ''Pobeda''. In this case Hovhannisyan informed that he will have to apply to relevant anti-dumping agencies and Armenia's Economy Ministry demanding to set equal conditions.''Otherwise, Armenia will again lose its national air carrier'', CEO of ''Armenia'' airline stated.
To recall, the national air carrier of Armenia - Armavia - suspended its flights on 1 April 2013 and launched the bankruptcy procedure because of unfair competition and pressure from Russian airline companies. 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. According to the program Open Skies policy would have positive impact on opening of job places, growth of passenger transportation and reduction of tariffs. Particularly, it was anticipated that the Open Skies policy would reduce the prices of flights to Armenia by 10% on the average, would lead to opening of 18.000-23.000 new jobs, growth of passenger turnover by 20- 25%. According to the plan this would allow the country to additionally increase the GDP by 1.5% or $0.3-0.4 bln AMD per annum.