When it comes to aviation, 2015 was a unique year for Armenia…in a bad sense.
It was the first since independence when not one Armenia-based company flew any flights. None had the rights to do so.
On October 23, 2013, the Armenian government adopted the “Open Sky” program designed to open the aviation sector to competition. The ambitious agenda envisaged the following benefits in the 3-4 years to follow:
- 0.3-.0.4 billion dollars in additional GDP revenue
- 18,000 – 23,000 new jobs, mostly in the aviation and tourism sectors
- 20% - 25% increase in passenger traffic
- 10% average drop in plane fares. Greater savings were envisaged on certain flights conditioned on the increase in competition.
Here, we will only talk about passenger transfers that have a direct link to and impact on other criteria and on their formation. The data below is periodically published by Armenia’s General Civil Aviation Department.
In 2013, when Armavia was still flying in Armenia (including March), and Air Armenia started to fly in October, a total of 1,691,710 passengers embarked and disembarked at Zvartnots International Airport. A total of 10,361 tons of cargo entered and left the airport. There were 8,721 takeoffs and landings.
These figures improved in 2014. Passenger turnover rose to 2,045,058 – an increase of 353,348. Cargo tonnage slipped slightly to 10,345 tons. The number of takeoffs and landings rose to 10,459.
Air Armenia continued its passenger service for a year; until October 2014.
While the figures for Gyumri’s Shirak International Airport are several times less than Zvartnots, 2013 was a more successful year for the smaller airport.
So what happened in 2015? By all accounts, Zvartnots registered losses and Shirak, gains. Passenger turnover dropped 7.9% from the previous year to 1,918,995. Cargo tonnage slipped 1.65% to 10,174 tons. Takeoffs and landings dropped 13.2% to 9,164.
The graphs below depict the picture of aviation in Armenia for the past three years combining figures from Zvartnots and Shirak airports.
If current trends continue, the Armenian aviation market will be at the mercy of foreign companies, mostly Russian. They can, at any time based on their interests, suspend commercial and non-commercial flights. More importantly, they can also dictate flight fares.
We can only wait until the end of 2016 to see if the negative numbers outlined above will change or not.