Georgian gov’t to allocate 600,000 euros to subsidise transit flights from Russia
The Georgian government will allocate 600,000 euros from the budget to bring Russian tourists from Russian airports through Yerevan to Tbilisi and Batumi.
The government decided to subsidize transit flights on July 24.
This decision was made by the Georgian government after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ban on flights between Russia and Georgia came into effect on July 8.
Protest rallies in Georgia following the visit of Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov to Georgia were the reason for the flight ban – one of the main slogans of these rallies was ‘Russia is an occupier.
As part of the programme, the Government of Georgia is financing no more than 90 euros (excluding VAT) per passenger.
The agreement with the airlines that will carry out transit flights from Russia to Georgia through Yerevan will be drawn up by the state company Georgia Airports Association.
The resolution does not indicate which airlines will be included, but the document states that the Georgia Airports Association can only choose two airlines.
The document says the airline chosen must provide continuous communication throughout the year, at least twice a week, for each priority transit direction.
At this stage, only Georgia Airways makes transit flights from Russia to Yerevan with the support of an Armenian partner airline.
In recent years, the number of Russian tourists in Georgia has increased significantly.
In 2012 Georgia was visited by 410,000 tourists, in 2018 their number increased 3.5 times to 1,405,000.
According to the Georgian Tourism Administration, one Russian tourist spends an average of about $520 in Georgia.
The opposition has criticized this decision.
Roman Gotsiridze, one of the leaders of the United National Movement and the former president of the National Bank of Georgia, says: “If the government is going to bring tourists at our expense, then why from Russia, let them bring Irish and Spanish tourists.”
“This is the wrong decision, this is subsidizing one airline. 600,000 euros means that if you allocate 100 euros of subsidies per passenger, that’s only 6,000 tourists. What does 6,000 tourists mean, if after the flight ban we are talking about the loss of 300,000 people. This is a game. Self-deception”, says Gotsiridze.