YEREVAN, October 17. / ARKA /. Armenia’s national air carrier, Armavia, shrugged off Zvartnot’s airport’s statement that it had suspended all the flights of the company because Armavia exceeded the debt ceiling by $1 million. An airline spokesperson told ARKA news agency that it was paying the debt according to a timetable agreed by both sides.
Gevorg Abrahamyan, a spokesman for the airport, told ARKA earlier today that the flights were suspended after the airline has exceeded by $1 million the earlier agreed debt ceiling. According to him, the company’s overall outstanding debt to the facility is about $ 3.6 million
"All payments are made according to the debt-restructuring agreement which ahs set a cleat timetable, but apparently, the airport does not like the fact that Armavia will have soon another shareholder,’ Armavia said.
Earlier Armavia spokeswoman Nana Avetisova confirmed that a number of companies and individuals were interested in purchasing the airline.
The airline also said that the airport suspended all flights from 9:00 am on Wednesday, and it is not clear when they might be resumed. It did not either know whether any negotiations were underway to paper over the dispute.
The suspension of services is just the latest in a series of disputes between Armavia and Zvartnots, concerning the level of service
charges set by the airport. Flights have been suspended several times – in November 2011, March and most recently in September.
Armavia argues that the service charges at Zvartnots, Armenia’s main international airport are unreasonably high. Mikhail Bagdasarov, the airline’s majority shareholder since 2005, has several times said that Armavia might be forced to file for bankruptcy unless the charges are reduced. After the September suspension the sides were said to have signed a new debt-restructuring deal. In case of breach of the agreement the airport reserves the right to sue the airline.
Armavia operates more than 100 flights a week to 40 destinations in 20 countries. In April 2011, it became the first commercial airline to put a Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 into operation, but later cancelled its order for a second Superjet and tried to return the first. However, on October 5, Sukhoi announced that it had reached a new six-month leasing agreement with Armavia on the Superjet.
Zvartnots airport is run by Armenia - International Airports company under a 30-year concession agreement signed with the Armenian government in 2001. The owner of the company is the Argentine American International Airports, owned by Argentine citizen of Armenian origin Eduardo Eurnekian. -0-