Armenia: Aviation Officials’ Business Interests Keep Ticket Prices High

Because air flights from Armenia are much more expensive compared with neighboring Georgia, many travelers in Armenia prefer to travel an extra 290 km from Yerevan to Tbilisi to catch a flight. That was the case when Armavia dominated the skies over Armenia as the sole national carrier.

Armavia no longer operates, and the government has decided that flights to and from Armenia can be operated by any carrier that meets current international standards. It would seem that promoting such competition would reduce the price of plane tickets. But ticket prices remain high, and many local and foreign experts are convinced that Armenia’s General Department of Civil Aviation (GDCA) is directly hindering any possibility of sector reform.

Artyom Movsesyan, head of the GDCA since 2004, has turned the organization into a personal business venture. One of the prime players is his deputy, Aram Marutyan, who has created a favorable business environment for his Atlantis European Airways by taking advantage of his official position.

OCCRP Armenian partner www.hetq.am has looked into the circumstances that keep Armenian air travelers making the cross-border track to Tbilisi to buy cheaper airline tickets.