YEREVAN, APRIL 23, ARMENPRESS. The Civil Aviation Committee of Armenia is taking active steps to attract new airlines to the Armenian market.
Chairwoman of the Civil Aviation Committee Tatevik Revazyan gave an interview to ARMENPRESS, presenting the results of the recent talks, introducing the ongoing programs and existing problems.
-You assumed the position of the Chairwoman of the Civil Aviation Committee in July 2018. What is the greatest achievement of your activity during this period?
-My goal was to make Armenia more visible on the map of the aviation sector. I have put a task so that the leading persons of the aviation field would recognize our country, know who we are, and what opportunities our state has. And based on the results of my activities I can state that I have achieved this. Recently I was in Singapore and was participating in a conference that was attended by 120 leaders from 80 countries. I talked to most of them, introduced our country and our opportunities. We were discussing the future of aviation during the conference, and I noted that if we are talking about the use of new technologies in the aviation sector, we first of all need to educate the civil aviation leaders because most of them are not informed. After my remarks it was stated that the new ideas can come from countries like Armenia. I do everything for Armenia not to be viewed as a country which constantly needs assistance. I want to show that we can come up with new ideas and proposals. We also need to be an initiator, cooperate with the leading states and get acquainted with their experience.
-The second key task you mentioned related to attracting new airlines to the Armenian aviation market. According to recent reports, Ryanair is going to enter the Armenian aviation market. You have just returned from your business trip, what news will you say on this?
-Before departing for Singapore I visited India. The purpose of my visit was simple – to work with the local airlines so that they will operate flights to Yerevan considering it as a transit zone. The reaction was positive, and I can state that Indian airlines are interested in the Armenian aviation market. In particular, we had a discussion with the IndiGo airline. I am interested in the Indian market because it is growing very rapidly. They are going to build 70 new airlines in the next ten years, and this growth will move on one direction, will not remain in India. Times of India published an article, noting whether the IndiGo airline will operate flights to Europe via Baku or Tbilisi. I was surprised why they do not consider Armenia. When we were holding discussions, it became clear that an inter-state agreement signed long ago hinders this because it defines certain restrictions. We clarified that they are subject to change, there is no obstacle in fact for the IndiGo to carry out flights to Europe via Yerevan. We have introduced the business opportunities of the Armenian aviation market to this company. When they operate flights to Europe via Yerevan, that also will be a competition to the Ryanair, which is quite positive. And this competitiveness will contribute to the decrease of air ticket prices. If the deal with IndiGo succeeds, this airline will operate flights every day.
I want to inform that we also had an interesting discussion with the Go Air airline. Their strategy is mostly based on tourism, and they are interested in regional tour packages. In partnership with the Tourism Committee of Armenia we are going to send interesting packages to this airline to understand to what extent Indians are interested in this. The leadership of the Go Air airline plans to visit Armenia in the near future.
We also carry out works on another direction, that is to attract investments in Armenia’s aviation market. Here there are groups which want to create a local airline. Many clearly stated that this will be difficult to do only with the Armenian capital. And we also introduced these opportunities to the Indian companies, and maybe they will be interested in investing in the Armenian airline. In this regard we work on other directions as well except India. Here our country is beneficial because we haven’t yet completely utilized our potential in the aviation field, in other words, we are a growing market from this perspective. This has been also recorded by international studies, the results of which are available to the decision-makers of the field. “Ryanair to Armenia. CIS-to-W Europe” research has been conducted by CAPA international organization which is the strongest and the most reliable source in the aviation analysis field.
-How will the entry of such airlines to the Armenian market contribute to the decline of air ticket prices because it seems there are no significant changes in this sense as of today?
-A Romanian airline has entered our market, I hope we will witness changes in the conditions of competitiveness. Of course, it’s clear that the more airlines enter our market, the more competitiveness will be, which in its turn will result in the reduction of air ticket prices. We are actively working on this path.
-There were some rumors that airlines entering the Armenian market consider the prices set for aircrafts in the airport a problem. What actions are being taken on this direction?
-Here I can state that in case of new directions which are more risky the airport is ready to provide better conditions for the airlines.
-In terms of the low-cost airlines, whether the Shirak airport can be an alternative to the Zvartnots airport? By attracting new airlines to the Armenian market whether the increase of opportunities of the airports is being considered?
-Yes, we can view the Shirak airport as an alternative. When we launched talks with the Ryanair, our entire business package was focused on the Shirak airport. But in line with this I also want to note that the airlines would hardly be interested in Gyumri only. As for the increase of opportunities of the airports, Zvartnots would perhaps present in more details, but yes, such issue is being discussed.
–There are some contradictions on having a national carrier. What is your professional opinion on this matter? Do you think that Armenia must have a national airline?
-We need a local airline when aircrafts are based in Armenia so that our Armenian pilots will return to and start working in our country. The national air carrier is a concept which was created in the 40s when the government was deciding in what directions the airline should operate flights because it was important for the country’s strategy, but was not beneficial. If we were a rich country, maybe this idea would be considered, but in my opinion, we need to spend each sum very cautiously. The national carriers very often face serious financial problems. I would not wish regress for us. I support to have an Armenian airline so that aircrafts will be based in Armenia. I do everything for this to happen.
-Following the air crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, a number of countries, including Armenia, made a decision to suspend the flights of Boeing 737 aircraft. How long the time limitations will last?
-These limitations are indefinite as long as the problem is not solved, the decision on suspending the flights is still in force. When I was in Singapore, I visited the Boeing Office and got acquainted with the works being carried out. We were following what decisions are being made by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), because they are in touch with the US civil aviation. We will not take any step until they lift the ban.
Interview by Anna Gziryan
Photos by Tatev Duryan
Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan