MOSCOW, October 16. / TASS /. The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency issued S7 airlines clearance to fly to Kutaisi, Georgia; the agency published its order on the official web site on Wednesday.
According to the document, S7 will be able to perform up to 7 flights per week. The Federal Air Transport Agency and S7 explained to TASS that the presence of clearance does not mean the actual start of flights.
"This is a standard practice when airlines extend their flight clearance in order to be able to start flights without slowing down if the air service opens," an official representative of the Federal Air Transport Agency told TASS. "Admission is the company's right. As soon as restrictions on flights are lifted to Georgia, Siberia Airlines will be able to exercise this right. "
"Having an admission does not give the airline the right to fly to Georgia under the current ban. The admission to flights to Kutaisi was obtained by Siberia Airlines instead of Globus Airlines as part of an airline association," S7 explained.
On June 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree imposing a temporary ban on flights, including commercial ones, from Russia to Georgia starting July 8. On June 22, Russia’s Transport Ministry announced that starting on July 8; flights by Georgian airlines to Russia would be halted.
Russia banned flights to and from Georgia following the unrest that erupted in Tbilisi on June 20. The protests were sparked by an uproar over a Russian legislator’s address in the Georgian parliament. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the flight ban was aimed at ensuring the safety of Russians, who might run into danger in Georgia.
In July, the volume of airline tickets from Russia to Georgia fell by 30%, due to the suspension of direct flights to Georgia, said Igor Konstantinov, general director of Biletix, Internet service for travelers. Direct flights between Russia and Georgia have been limited since July 8, but some travelers purchase tickets for connecting flights with transfer in third countries. "Tbilisi is a top tourist destination with good dynamics of its development - about 650,000 Russian tourists entered Georgia [before the restrictions]. According to forecasts, the number of tourists could have reached 1.5 mln, if there had been no air travel ban. If we are talking about banning flights from Russia to Georgia, then the passengers have an alternative - transfer "said Konstantinov. He noted that prices for flights to Georgia increased by 13%
About 54,000 Russian nationals were staying in Georgia at the time when the flight ban was announced. According to Russian Transport Minister Yevgeny Ditrikh, roughly 4,500 of them still have not changed their flights so the Ministry has allocated additional funds to ensure they return to Russia until the end of the week.