Fly Armavia: National air carrier expects a ‘banner year’ due to new destinations

Armenia’s national air carrier hopes to see an increase in the number of its passengers this year primarily due to expanding to new markets and cooperating with a global airline alliance.

This week’s direct Armavia flight from Yerevan to Paris has become the first to be operated after a deal signed between the Armenian company and Air France, one of the world’s largest and most renowned airlines that has for decades been the primary French national flag carrier.

From now on, five flights from Yerevan to Paris and four flights from Paris to Yerevan will be operated on a weekly basis.

“The signing of this agreement has proved the first step for the company towards cooperation with large European airlines. This is a very serious strategic step that brings our company work to a different level,” says Armavia’s acting commercial director Tereza Ghazaryan.

Air France is a founding member of the global airline alliance SkyTeam. Ghazaryan says Armavia could also integrate into this alliance in the future.

Sergey Kharatyan, deputy manager of flight services at Armavia, says cooperation with Air France is on equal terms.

“We both operate our flights with Airbus-320s. There is no difference in aircraft, they are in quite equal conditions in terms of age and technical levels,” he says.

Company officials say Armavia recently registered its 400,000th passenger. They believe this figure will double in 2009 despite the continuing global economic crisis. Ghazaryan says this high growth in the number of passengers has become possible due to “constant work to open new destinations while keeping the old ones.”
“And we are very proud that Armenians choose their national air carrier,” says Ghazaryan.

Armavia is currently working to open a flight to Los Angeles. The airline hopes to achieve that by the end of the year, but says it currently experiences difficulties with purchasing aircraft, such as A330s or Boeing 777.

“But we keep working and it is very important for us, since we have a huge Armenian community there,” says Kharatyan.

Ghazaryan says Armavia is likely to open a Yerevan-Tehran flight by the end of the year responding to numerous requests from passengers, especially after the July 15 crash of a Russian-built Tupolev-154 plane operating a Caspian Airline flight from Tehran to Yerevan. All 168 people on board that plane, including several citizens of Armenia and several dozen Iranian-Armenians, were killed then.

“They are eager to see these flights operated by Armavia, by Armenian pilots and crew members,” says Ghazaryan.