Oct 19, 2012

Armavia Saga: Struggling national air carrier’s flights suspended again

The situation around the unresolved dispute between Armenia’s national air carrier and the country’s main international airport continues to cause problems keeping hundreds of current and potential passengers in suspense.

On Thursday morning the Armenia International Airports company again suspended its services of Armavia flights from the Zvartnots airport, leaving dozens of passengers hoping to get to Moscow stranded in Yerevan. Another Armavia flight scheduled for Thursday also appeared jeopardized because of the continuing financial dispute between the two companies.

The situation around Armavia was in the media focus again on Wednesday as the airline’s flights were first stopped in the morning and later resumed in the evening.

Zvartnots airport officials say the flights services for Armavia were terminated because of the company’s debt exceeding the amount of $1 million. The two companies reportedly agreed on that when resolving a major money dispute earlier this year.

Zvartnots Airport press secretary Gevorg Abrahamyan told ArmeniaNow on Thursday that Armavia’s debt to the airport reached $3.6 and $225,000 of that sum was paid on Wednesday, after which the service of Armavia flights resumed for several hours.

“We expected Armavia to pay some of that debt today as well, but they haven’t yet made any step in this direction, so this situation will continue as long as the airline does not take steps to reduce the amount of debt that it currently has,” said Abrahamyan.

Armavia spokesperson Nana Avetisova said on Thursday that the airline made payments on a daily basis and was gradually reducing its debt to the Zvartnots airport. She said that on October 17 the company made a fresh payment, but that money would not appear on the Zvartnots airport’s account until the next day.

Differences between Armavia and Armenia International Airports have emerged on quite a regular basis lately. The last time problems over payments and service-rendering emerged was in late September. Then the airport again suspended its services to the airline.

Armavia press secretary Avetisova said on Wednesday that the decision by Armenia International Airports to stop services most likely was due to the fact that the airline will soon have a new shareholder, which “the airport probably doesn’t like.”

But airport spokesman Abrahamyan told ArmeniaNow that they did not have any information about any new shareholder.

“We ourselves would like to know who this new shareholder is in order to clarify the relationship with the company,” he said.

Armavia does not yet disclose the name of its new shareholder, saying that “it is a commercial secret” and promising to report related information in due time.

Earlier, some local media reported that Argentine-Armenian businessman Eduardo Eurnekian, whose company now manages the Zvartnots airport, was planning to buy Armavia. Eurnekian denied the reports later. The Armenian president’s son-in-law Mikael Minasyan has been named by some media as another possible buyer.

Source: armenianow.com

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