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Austria said good-bye to Tbilisi skies2010-09-21 20:20
Last year, foreign investors used to unanimously stress the uniqueness of the Georgian commercial market in view of the country's geographic location and the absence of corruption and criminal activity. Meanwhile, many large business structures have left Georgia, including Kazakh national company KazMunajGaz, which did so because of financial problems related to the Georgian distributors' huge debt obligations. There has been another warning bell not so long ago: Austrian Airlines company ceases its regular Vienna-Tbilisi flights and bids farewell to the clients.
At the end of August, Mikheil Saakashvili and his confidant "baker" Veronika Kobalia stated their intention to introduce a new air carrier to the Georgian market, the Ryanair Irish company. With a dazzling smile, the minister of economy and sustained development of Georgia assured that in the course of her visit to Ireland she held negotiations with the local company. According to Kobalia, Ryanair is dreaming of opening a regional center in Georgia to perform flights in European direction. As for the Georgian president, he happily remarked that the top-priority component of the tourism development in the county is the performance of domestic and international flights.
One should think that if these two people were not so much elated with their dreams about European Singapore, they would inquire after those who are already present in the Georgian air space. The point is that the last flight will be performed by Austrian Airlines company on October 30 this year. One may only try to guess the reason why the company refuses to take Georgians to Vienna any more; it may be grounded by both internal and external factors. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since 1998 when the air company settled in the Georgian market. Thus, it is no wonder that in the post-crisis period, various commercial structures have to reorganize their business considering their own profitability.
According to the carrier, the reason why the air connection with Tbilisi will be shut is some commercial party that showed very unsatisfactory results. However, the company representatives avoid giving details, being effusive in vague explanations. It is quite possible that by a commercial party, they meant AirBaltic Latvian Air Company which, just like Austrian Airlines, is able to perform flights along the transit route to Riga. This company could have made the Austrian carrier feel uncomfortable in the Georgian market and hurried to leave, having saved its face.