A flight service between the two countries was made possible by a U.S.-Armenian “open skies” agreement that was signed in 2008 and went into effect in 2009. The Armenian government’s Civil Aviation Department said at the time that the U.S. Department of Transportation will likely give Armavia the green light to fly to New York and Los Angeles by the end of 2009.
The flights have still not been launched for reasons that remain unclear, however. The Civil Aviation Department says that the onus is on Armavia to get clearance from relevant U.S. authorities.
“We have repeatedly said that the Armenian government has no more things do,” the department chief, Artyom Movsisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We have put in place the necessary legal framework [for flights] for both Armenian and American carriers.”
Armavia insisted, however, that it is the government agency that is primarily responsible for the delay. “Armavia has been ready to carry out flights to the United States for two years,” said Nana Avetisova, a spokeswoman for the private carrier. “Negotiations with the American side are continuing. Armavia managers have met with top executives of the Los Angeles and New York airports and reached some agreements with them.”
“But until there is an official licensing done by the Armenian government’s Civil Aviation Department, Armavia will obviously not be able to fly to the United States,” Avetisova told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The planned Transatlantic flights would allow thousands of Armenians traveling to and from the U.S. each year to avoid lengthy layovers at European airports. They account for a large part of passengers taking daily flights between Yerevan and major European cities.