Sep 16, 2010

Yerevan Flights Delayed Over Airline Debts

Armenia’s national airline, Armavia, was forced to briefly delay three flights from Yerevan on Thursday because of its outstanding debts to the Zvartnots international airport.

Armavia planes bound for Russia and Israel were allowed to take off more than hour after their scheduled departure time as the company began urgent crisis talks with the airport administration.

“We had to take such a step because Armavia has accumulated big debts,” Zvartnots spokesman Gevorg Abrahamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Right now, the issue is being settled. All flights are being handled as normal. We hope to avoid such problems in the future.”

Abrahamian said later in the day that the two sides have worked out a timetable for the repayment of the debts incurred by Armavia. “This debt will be repaid very soon,” confirmed Nana Avetisova, an Armavia spokeswoman.

Both officials refused to disclose the sum owed by the private carrier to Zvartnots’s Argentinean operator, Corporacion America. Avetisova linked Armavia’s failure to pay for airport ground services on time with last year’s global recession which did not keep the company from purchasing new aircraft.

“This is normal for airlines around the world,” she told RFE/RL. “Yet in our country there is so much fuss that you feel like it’s the end of the world. We are a small airline located in a small country, and having such a debt is not something extraordinary.”

Owned by Russian-Armenian businessman Mikhail Bagdasarov, Armavia currently flies to about 30 destinations in Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. It became Armenia’s leading carrier in 2004 following the bankruptcy of the state-run Armenian Airlines.


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