Arkia plane (Archives)
Photo: Ilan Levy

Georgia nixes Arkia's landing rights

Georgian Aviation Authority revokes Israeli airline's privileges; Israel echoes move, air traffic between countries effectively suspended. Transportation, Foreign ministries trying to resolve crisis

Arkia Airlines announced Saturday it was suspending its regular flights to Georgia.


According to an Arkia statement, the Georgian Aviation Authority had decided to renege on a recent agreement signed with its Israeli counterpart.


As a result Israeli flights are no longer allowed to land in Georgia and Georgian flights are no longer allowed to land in Israel.


The Foreign Ministry has been advised of the situation, which is currently being handled by the Transportation Ministry.


Transportation Ministry Spokesman Avner Ovaida said: "Israel and Georgia signed an agreement affirming winter airline activities between the two countries, some 10 days ago.


"The agreement said that each country would run three regular flights a week. The reason for their (landing) refusal is unclear, and frankly, a little strange, so we have suspended landing rights to Georgian flights until this matter is resolved."


The Transportation Ministry ordered Arkia to provide its clients with alternative solutions.


Israeli-Georgian air traffic amounts to about 25,000 people a year.


Arkia VP Nir Dagan told Ynet that with the winter flights' season underway, every airline must file its flight plans with the Aviation Authority.


"Arkia filed its Georgian flight plans and was surprised to learn – as was the Israeli Aviation Authority – that Georgia rejected them."


Arkia, he added, was given no reason for the decision and both the company and the Aviation Authority are assuming it was financially-politically based.


"Unfortunately, Arkia is forced to suspend the route… and with the Aviation Authority suspending landings of Georgian flight, this effectively means that Israeli-Georgian air traffic is suspended.


"Arkia expects the proper authorities to resolve the situation as soon as possible and in the meantime it will do all in its power to provide its client with alternative ways to arrive in Georgia."


Tal Rabinovsky contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 10.24.09, 23:10
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