YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Head of the Civil Aviation Department of Armenia Vagharshak Mnatsakanian said Armenian Airlines is gaining respect on the international market. He reported that European Airbus Industries Consortium agreed to provide an A-310 airbus on lease to Armenian Airlines demanding no guarantees from the Armenian government or any European bank. The Consortium will also provide $1.2 million to retrain airline crew and technical staff.
Mnatsakanian said a special role is played by the French government–which began rendering aid last December following then Prime Minister Robert Kocharian’s visit to France.
Mnatsakanian also reported an agreement with Swissair signed this March–under which two Swiss air companies will be operating joint flights based on code-sharing–which allows Armenian Airlines to use Swissair’s international code. A Yerevan-Zurich flight will be launched based on this principle. Mnatsakanian emphasized that this agreement will also allow Armenian Airlines to serve a greater number of passengers.
The number of passengers accommodated by Armenian Airlines will also increase due to the Yerevan-Dehli route beginning operation this summer. That flight will join the Yerevan-London flight and attract an estimated 20,000 additional passengers annually.
Since 1997–Armenian Airlines has been operating a number of new flights. The Yerevan-London route opened in December. A Yerevan-Milano route followed on May 2–and this summer will feature the Yerevan-Voronezh and Yerevan-Warsaw routes.
In 1996–353,000 passengers were transported by the Armenian Airlines. Last year the figure rose to 378,000 people. The A-310 airbus will mainly be used for European flights–as well as flights to Moscow–St. Petersburg–and Tashkent. The A-310 provides for opportunities for competition with western air companies. Negotiations are underway with a Singaporan leasing company with the aim of leasing one more A-310 airplane.
The Armenian government decided to privatize Armenian Airlines–and a governmental commission was formed to prepare the process and privatization program.
The American SH&E organization submitted a business plan of strategic development of and privatization of the company.