Regular flights have resumed in the country and after 10 months of time-out, the airlines will return to Georgian airspace. However, the government has decided that companies will only have to operate under set regulations. In short, flights have resumed, but entry rules for citizens of a number of countries have not changed, and the procedure for obtaining entry rights is inconvenient for business visitors, which does not allow certain airlines to continue with regular flights. The Civil Aviation Agency is also actively consulting with all air carriers on the resumption possibilities for the preferred airlines during the rest of the winter navigation season, as well as on flights to the summer destinations.
According to the Civil Aviation Agency (GCAA), due to the fact that the rate of COVID-19 infection is still high in the world, most states maintain or periodically change the border and sanitary regulations due to the epidemiological situation, which naturally reflects on airline decisions to continue or resume flights in certain directions. "Although the situation for the aviation sector is difficult to predict, a number of airlines are actively expressing their desire to resume operations in the direction of Georgia. The lifting of the restrictions on regular air traffic will enable us, together with the industry, to prepare for the active season, to make available the travel of our citizens from and to Georgia and to facilitate the gradual restoration of tourism in our country, ” - said Levan Karanadze, Director of the Civil Aviation Agency.
Giorgi Jakhutashvili, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Georgia repeatedly mentioned to the media that resumption of flights was important for renewal of tourism as well as of business relations and what is most important, for attraction of investments. According to him, despite the pandemic, $ 30 million are invested in projects in Georgia and additional $ 70 million worth projects are being prepared, including Shovi Spa Resort.
For reference, Kazakh investment has been made in Georgia since 2006 and its amount, according to the GeoStat, is around $240 million. At present, this argument alone is enough to assess the role of Kazakh investments in Georgia’s development, however, inflows through the other channels are to be considered as well, altogether adding up to half a billion dollars. Today, Kazakh capital is represented in Georgia by bank, port, oil company and airlines, which over the years have brought in many private entities that made investments mainly in real estate or the other medium-sized firms, employed quite a lot of people and want to develop these businesses.
As Giorgi Jakhutashvili explains, there are still resources and potential, which can be further developed and turned into a channel for attracting additional investments. "The country's healthcare, education, security, regional development and overcoming demographic problems require more financial resources, which cannot be replenished by international aid and foreign debts alone. We are committed to create a stable economy that can be achieved only by maintaining and increasing foreign direct investments. "One of my main functions as the Honorary Consul of Kazakhstan is to deepen economic relations between Georgia and Kazakhstan, an integral part of which is taking care of investments," said Giorgi Jakhutashvili.
The consul also addressed impediments, including complicated procedures for entry into the country, which was simplified by the governmental decision last week only for citizens of certain states. Kazakhstan is not among them and due to inconvenient procedures, business visitors from this country are reluctant to travel to Georgia, which in itself hinders the decision-making process. Therefore, it is necessary that the government introduces rules of entry that are acceptable to business visitors, and at the same time do not pose a threat to the epidemiological situation.
The idea that air travel to Kazakhstan is important is proved by the available data. Two Kazakh airlines Air Astana and Scat are represented on the Georgian air market. Both airlines served 113,000 passengers in 2019, which shows increase in passenger traffic by 6,000 compared to 2018. Due to the pandemic, the suspended flights affected both companies, however in 2020 the companies served more than 14,000 passengers.