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How Aviation Sector Grows in Georgia

The past 4 years has showed unprecedented upturn in aviation sector. 2 186 684 passengers – over the past 9 months, 103% growth, compared to 2012. Upturn in passenger turnover at Georgian airports is the result of the reasonable policy that our country follows, as well as the result of joint and tireless job between private sector and state structures

According to the January-September report, passenger turnover at Georgian airports have increased by 23% compared to the same period of 2015. Government officials assert that correct policy has brought such success and  the aviation field as a priority direction.

Over the past months, several important changes took place in Georgian aviation sector. Certain steps were taken in terms of infrastructure improvement: Tbilisi international airport runway was reconstructed; second terminal construction works started, runway was opened in Ambrolauri and low-cost airline WizzAir arranged a base at Kutaisi International Airport. All these changes have increased passenger turnover. United Airports of Georgia held a special presentation over these projects at Tbilisi International Airport on October 21.

Ketevan Aleksidze, head of United Airports of Georgia, talks about the January to September period performance:

“All international airports in Georgia have recorded upturn in passenger turnover. According to January to September report, Georgia-based airports served 2 181 684 passengers, including Tbilisi international airport’s ratio made up 79.1%, Batumi International Airport – 12.4%, Kutaisi International Airport – 8.4% and Mestia airport – 0.14%. In 2016, passenger turnover at Georgia-based airports increased by 23% compared to the same period of 2015, while the turnover has increased by 103% compared to the same period of 2012”, Ketevan Aleksidze said.

Before the mentioned presentation, Government of Georgia released a statement that aviation and airports development is a priority direction in the country. The evident result of this policy is the runway which recently opened in Ambrolauri. It should be also noted that the airport construction works have not been finished yet. The Government will spend about 10 million GEL on the project implementation. Vice Prime Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili noted that airport construction works represent a part of space accommodation plan.

“I would like to hail the Georgian Prime Minister’s initiative that prepared a ground for local airport construction in Ambrolauri. On October 6, 2016 Ambrolauri airport runway construction works were finished, while passenger terminal construction works will be completed at the end of 2016. We have other ambitious plans, because infrastructural development of airports and construction of new ones is an important constituent part of space accommodation”, Dimitri Kumsishvili told the news conference.

Construction of the mentioned airport is a new priority announced by the Georgian Dream government. Even before 2012, two new international airports opened and there were plans for construction of several other ones.The Georgian Dream government is proud of the aviation field development. This is the result of our tireless job, Vice Prime Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili noted:

“The past 4 years has showed unprecedented upturn in aviation sector. 2 186 684 passengers – over the past 9 months, 103% growth, compared to 2012. Upturn in passenger turnover at Georgian airports is the result of the reasonable policy that our country follows, as well as the result of joint and tireless job between private sector and state structures”.

Despite statement by Dimitri Kumsishvili, representatives of private sector operating in the aviation  field, point to the problems that frustrate business development, first of all, practice of state subsidization of distinct companies. Vato Asatashvili, head of Heliski Georgia company operating in small aviation business, talks about this and other factors:

“Over the past period, active discussions are underway that some companies enjoy special preferences, while some companies cannot enter the market to perform flights. We remember discussions over Tbilisi-Batumi flights. Therefore, subsidization is a fault practice in its essence, and it is very difficult to carry out healthy and transparent monitoring. There are threats that hidden collusions exist behind all these factors. On the other hand, it is very important that the Government follow clearly-determined vision and strategy. We see that airports and infrastructure are being constructed and construction of new ones are announced, but who will enjoy these services? Does the Government have any plan or  infrastructure construction was a part of election campaign and everything else will remain in the current condition and nobody will enjoy flight services?! Therefore, it is very important for us, private sector, to know where the Government moves to and what  the Authorities plan”, Asatashvili noted.

By Medea Samkharadze
Reporter at CBW.ge
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