Armenia’s government urgently hired a passenger jet on Friday to evacuate more than 100 Armenian tourists stranded in an Egyptian Red Sea resort because of a Yerevan-based travel agency.
The tourists were due to return to Armenia from the Hurghada resort on Wednesday. However, their flight organized by the A & R Tour agency was cancelled.
According to the Armenian Embassy in Egypt, A & R Tour failed to make a payment to a Greek airline which was due to carry out the flight. Flights from Yerevan to another popular Egyptian resort, Sharm el-Sheikh, arranged by the same agency were also cancelled this week.
The government decided to pay the Greek airline Ogrange2Fly 47 million drams (about $100,000) to bring the 130 or so stranded holidaymakers back to Armenia. An Ogrange2Fly plane carrying them landed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport on Friday evening.
The payment also covers a second Hurghada-Yerevan flight which will be carried out on Monday. According to a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian it will bring home more than 100 other A & R Tour customers whose holidays end next week.
Scores of other Armenians, who have bought tour packages from the agency and were due to travel to Egypt this week, remained in limbo. Some of them again visited its Yerevan office to demand information or reimbursement for their expenses. The office was closed, however.
One customer, Lianna Hovannisian, said she managed to talk to A & R Tour’s director, Ani Aleksanian, by phone in the morning. “I asked her to give my money back … She said their accountant will contact me. That hasn’t happened yet,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Aleksanian’s lawyer, Arsen Mkrtchian, said she has filed a report to law-enforcement authorities alleging that the flight disruptions resulted from an obstruction of her agency’s activities. Mkrtchian did not elaborate on those claims.
The Armenian police said, meanwhile, that they have launched a preliminary investigation.