YEREVAN, October 19. / ARKA /. Armenia’s national air carrier Armavia said it had paid about 20% of its $3.6 million outstanding service debt to Zvartnots international airport, following which the facility resumed the flights, suspended again this morning. A spokeswoman for Zvartnots, Gevorg Abrahamyan, said the transfer was made and the debt was reduced to $3 million.
The dispute between Armavia and Zvartnots is about the level of service charges set by the airport. Flights have been suspended several times – in November 2011, March, in September and earlier October 2012 and most recently today morning.
Armavia argues that the service charges at Zvartnots, Armenia’s main international airport are unreasonably high. Mikhail Baghdasarov, 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.
Earlier, Armavia said it was paying the debt on a daily basis claiming also that the suspensions were prompted by the plans of Armavia to sell its shares.
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-