YEREVAN — Armenia’s national airline, Armavia, has declared the start of bankruptcy proceedings.

The carrier said in Friday’s statement that it will halt flights next week. Armavia currently has 14 aircraft conducting more than 100 flights a week to 20 countries. The airline is to stop flights from April 1.

The airline was established in 1996. In 2001, it had only one airplane. In 2003, the airline purchased three planes. In 2006, it operated seven planes and in 2007, 14 planes.

The airline has a debt of $5m to Eduardo Eurnekian, an Argentinian-Armenian businessman who owns the Armenia International Airports company.

Russia’s civil aviation authority said Armavia has an outstanding debt of $1.4 million to Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and smaller debts to two other airports in southern Russia.

Armavia’s owner, Mikhail Bagdasarov, announced his intention to sell the company last year, but has failed to find a buyer. Bagdasarov attributed Armavia’s troubles to the global economic downturn and losses from using a new Russian-made Sukhoi superjet.

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Turkish side suspends Yerevan-Van flights

In another development, the Armenian Narekavank tour agency has issued a statement saying that the Turkish authorities have suspended the first flight between Yerevan and Van. According to the agency, the decision was made on Thursday by country’s General Department of Civil Aviation.

The flight was to be operated by Narekavank Tour, the Turkish Borajet Airline company, and the Ayanis Travel Agency. The initiative was aimed at developing tourism and promoting economic and business cooperation between the two countries.

“The organizers were very enthusiastic and happy that the initiative had not met any obstacles in either Turkey or Armenia. This fact was welcomed by both the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia and the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, Van Chapter. The organizers were keen on staying away from politics. It is very sad and discouraging that Turkish authorities were not able to do the same, and eventually let politics interfere with this promising initiative.

We are still expect the Turkish authorities to demonstrate understanding and reconsider their decision,” the statement reads .

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