A state-owned Armenian company providing meteorological services to airlines said on Tuesday that it will take legal action to force Armavia, the struggling national carrier, to pay 142 million drams ($350,000) in outstanding debts.
The Aviation Meteorology Center located at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport also threatened to stop giving Armavia and other airlines weather information needed for the safety of their flights. Its acting director, Pavel Manukian, warned that such a move would effectively block flights to and from Zvartnots.
“They [Armavia] do not respond to phone calls at all,” Manukian told a news conference. “Our appeals that the [meteorological] system is on the brink of collapse have fallen on deaf ears.”
Anahit Grigorian, a lawyer for the center, said it itself owes 17 million drams to the Zvartnots administration and could be forced to leave the airport premises if Armavia does not pay up soon.
An Armavia spokeswoman, Nana Avetisova, said the airline has not repaid its debts because the meteorological service has refused to lower its service charges.
Armavia is currently charged only 25,000 drams ($62) per flight. In Grigorian’s words, this is the lowest tariff of its kind in the region.
Avetisova also dismissed the agency’s threats to stop providing weather data. “We do not need their services,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We can get what we get now from the airport navigation service.”
The debt-ridden airline is also locked in a more serious financial dispute with an Argentinean company managing Zvartnots. Armavia flights have been regularly suspended by the airport administration this year because of millions of dollars in debts incurred by the carrier for ground services.
Armavia has pledged to gradually clear the debts, which exceeded $3 million as of mid-October. It received a stern warning from the Armenian government’s Civil Aviation Department late last month.