“EXPENSIVE” ARMENIAN SKY
YEREVAN, August 8. /ARKA/. Vacation season is still in full swing, and
many of our citizens plan to spend their holidays abroad. Apart from
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as Georgian Black Sea resorts
that have become popular recently, many Armenians prefer spending their
summer vacations in more remote countries. One can reach Batumi and
Kobuleti by car or the special “Armenia” train operated by the South
Caucasus Railway, whereas the only transport to other countries is
airplane due to Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s blockade of Armenia.
Many experts and even ambassadors believe high air ticket prices and
few direct flights hinder development of tourism in Armenia.
Heading to Tbilisi
Recently many Armenian citizens prefer flying abroad not from Armenian
“Zvartnots” but from Tbilisi airport, as air tickets from Georgia
cost considerably less than from Armenia. Even several hours’ driving
distance to Tbilisi and need for going through customs at the border
do not withhold people.
If you take a minute to look at prices in air ticket offices and tour
agencies, you will understand why.
For instance, one of the most popular destinations for Armenians
this summer, Barcelona will cost (including return) 468 euros from
Yerevan and only 350 euros from Tbilisi, with both flights operated
by Polish LOT via Warsaw. The LOT has set different prices also
for direct flights – Yerevan-Warsaw-Yerevan costs 420 euros whereas
Tbilisi-Warsaw-Tbilisi costs 310 euros only.
And LOT is not the only one… Charter flight to Antalya and back in
summer time will cost 300-350 dollars if traveling from Tbilisi and
350 euros from Yerevan (the prices do not include travel package,
which may bring the ticket price down).
Charter flights to Sharm El Sheikh cost 450 dollars from Yerevan and
300-350 dollars from Tbilisi.
It is cheaper from Yerevan only when flying to Moscow, but that is
probably due to complicated relations between Russia and Georgia.
SibAvia ticket for Yerevan-Moscow-Yerevan is 344 euros, whereas
Tbilisi-Moscow-Tbilisi operated by the same air company costs 374
Flying to Dubai is also cheaper from Yerevan – 220 dollars as compare
to 320 dollars from Tbilisi.
“Zvartnots” say they are not to blame
Earlier representatives of bankrupted national air company Armavia
said air ticket prices were high due to expensive airport service.
Yet, the management of the airport says service prices at Zvartnots
are not higher than in any other airport in the region.
“In general, if only airport tariffs are considered, we are competitive
and provide even cheaper services than the neighboring states do. Our
services, for instance, are twice as cheap as in Azerbaijan”, deputy
general manager of Armenia – International Airports closed joint
stock company Andranik Shkhyan said.
According to Shkhyan, the weaknesses of Zvartnots are high jet fuel
costs, air “tax” (state duty of 10,000 drams included in the air ticket
price) and a number of other services beyond the airport’s competence.
Prices for jet fuel that has considerable contribution to high air
ticket costs are regulated by the State Commission for Economic
Competition and depend on a number of factors, Shkhyan said. The
margin is from 100 to 150 dollars per ton, he added.
General manager of Armenia – International Airports cjsc Marselo Vende,
in his turn, said number of flights to Armenia should be increased
and Armenian air market should be liberalized in order to get the
air ticket prices reduced.
Zvartnots may turn into a transit airport?
In late May Armenian premier Tigran Sargsyan said at the parliament
one of the options for aviation development in Armenia is transferring
Zvartnots into a transit airport. But these plans may fail, like some
of the other government projects, under the current circumstances, when
even Armenian residents prefer flying not from their home Zvartnots,
but from Tbilisi.
And if the air ticket prices are high in Armenia due to high service
costs at Zvartnots then it is time for the government to think over
development of Giumri airport (about 120 kilometers from Yerevan).
Development of Giumri airport may be important also in terms of
development in Armenia’s regions which is said to be of high importance
to the government.
Hayk Khalatyan, specially for ARKA Agency – See more at: