YEREVAN — A senior executive of Ryanair on Wednesday reportedly confirmed the Irish budget airline’s plans to launch regular flights between Europe and Armenia.
Ryanair’s chief commercial officer, David O’Brien, and director of route development, Kate Sherry, discussed the matter with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a visit to Yerevan.
An Armenian government statement cited O’Brien as telling Pashinyan that Ryanair “intends to enter the Armenian aviation market soon” and is now negotiating with Armenia’s civil aviation authority and main airport operator for that purpose. He presented concrete flights planned by the airline and its “tariff policy” for them, said the statement.
Pashinyan welcomed those plans, saying that Ryanair flights to and from Armenia would benefit the country’s tourism industry. He expressed hope that the two sides will work out a “concrete variant of mutually beneficial cooperation.”
O’Brien and Sherry held a separate dinner meeting on Tuesday with Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan and Tatevik Revazyan, the head of the Armenian government’s Civil Aviation Committee. Revazyan negotiated with Ryanair representatives in Dublin early this year before announcing in March that the Irish carrier is planning to fly to Armenia.
Revaziyn, who was also present at Pashinyan’s meeting the visiting Ryanair executives, announced in July that Ryanair as well as another Western low-cost airline, Wizz Air, are ready to launch flight services next year if they are granted financial concessions.
She said the Civil Aviation Committee is already drafting a bill that would exempt them from a fixed $21 tax levied from every air ticket sold in the country. The government agency also hopes to convince an Argentine company managing Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport to offer them discounts for airport ground services, she added.
The cost of air travel to and from Armenia has already decreased since the liberalization in 2013 of the domestic civil aviation sector. This has contributed to a steady growth of the country’s international air traffic. The total number of passengers processed by the international airports in Yerevan and Gyumri rose by around 10 percent in the first half of this year.
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline founded in 1984, headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland, with its primary operational bases at Dublin and London Stansted airports. In 2016, Ryanair was the largest European budget airline by scheduled passengers flown, and carried more international passengers than any other airline.
Ryanair operates more than 400 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with a single 737-700 used primarily as a charter aircraft, but also as a backup and for pilot training. Ryanair’s route network serves 38 countries in Europe, North Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel, Lebanon and Jordan).