Karabakh To Reopen Stepanakert Airport


STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is pressing ahead with plans to reopen the the country’s sole civilian airport that was shut down nearly two decades ago.

Flights to and from the airport, located 8 kilometers east of Stepanakert, had been discontinued in 1991 amid intensifying armed clashes in and around Karabakh that degenerated into a full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani war. Transport communication between the territory and the outside world has since been carried out only by land, via Armenia.

The Karabakh government decided last year to reopen the airport, severely damaged during the 1991-1992 war, and raised about 1 billion drams ($2.8 million) for its reconstruction from unspecified “charitable sources.” It began building a new airport terminal and repairing the runway shortly afterwards

Government officials said earlier this year that a flight service between Stepanakert and Yerevan could be launched already in mid-October. However, Bako Sahakian, the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, made clear that this will not happen before the end of this year as he inspected the under-construction facility on Tuesday.

According to Karabakh’sUrban Development Minister Karen Shahramanian, work on the terminal building will be completed in November. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that air navigation equipment is now being installed at the airport.

It is expected that Karabakh will have a regular flight service only with Armenia, at least in the near future. Its unresolved status makes direct air communication with other countries all but impossible.

It is not yet clear whether the Stepanakert-Yerevan flights will be carried out by Armenia’s national airline Armavia. Officials have said only that a one-way air ticket to the Armenian capital will cost 16,000 drams ($45).

By comparison, the current fare for a minibus trip from Stepanakert to Yerevan, which takes between six and seven hours, is 5,000 drams per person.

A random street poll of Stepanakert residents conducted by RFE/RL suggested that many locals will be willing to pay a higher price for much shorter and more convenient travel. “We won’t be tired of long trips,” said one man. “It should be interesting,” noted another.

7 Responses

for “Karabakh To Reopen Stepanakert Airport”

  1. Harout Nikoghossian says:

    GOOD JOB!

  2. Hagop says:

    This is great news!
    There will be a boom in the tourism industry of Artsakh. It will take only an hour or so to reach Stepanakert as compared to 7 hours that it takes now.
    As to the fact that Artsakh is not recognized is not a detromental factor for flight from other countries, because there are flight from Moscow to Nakhichevan whose status is also unresolved…

  3. Random Armenian says:

    Hagop,

    Does Moscow see Nakhichevan as disputed territory or does it recognize it as part of Azerbaijan? I don’t think there is any international unresolved status regarding Nakhichevan like there is with Karabagh. Armenia has not internationally recognized Artsakh as independent.

  4. Random Armenian says:

    Otherwise, this is good news. I don’t know what the hospitals are like in Artsakh but if there is a need to get a patient to Yerevan fast, direct flight would be a benefit. Not to mention more options for transporting goods and cargo, and in case of a natural disaster. I’m sure the Azeris will complain about this :)

  5. I am all for it. Sooner we open the direct communication better it will be. Many more will follow. 45$ seems a reasonable price for such flight! Go Artsakh!

  6. Random Armenian says:

    Ruben Malayan,

    this is a good thing, but I don’t know what sort of aircrafts will be flying and how reliable, for $45. It’s good news and a little bit scary to be honest.

  7. arthur says:

    the same money i payed 2 monthes ago to fly too Spain from Holland (2500km)

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