Waving off the First Direct Flight from Tbilisi to London since 2013

The first Georgian Airways flight left Tbilisi for London Gatwick direct on Monday, the first direct flight from Tbilisi since British Midland ceased operations in Georgia in 2013.

British Airways and its franchise partner British Mediterranean Airways (BMED) served the route between London Heathrow and Tbilisi until October 2007 when the business was bought by bmi British Midland.

The latter continued to serve the route, offering services via Yerevan from October 2008 and then via Baku from March 2010, until its own sale to British Airways, who resurrected non-stop flights in October 2012 until the route ceased in March 2013.

Richard Maslen, writing for routesonline.com in 2015, stated, “Our analysis of Sabre Airport Data Intelligence demand statistics shows that up to 21,000 bi-directional O&D passengers a year were flying between London Heathrow and Tbilisi when the route was in operation, with a base demand of around 14,000 last year, despite no direct flights. The strongest passenger flows were with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, but with notable flows with LOT Polish Airlines and Lufthansa.”

Georgian Airways will fly from Tbilisi International to London’s Gatwick Airport every Saturday and Monday. Flights will leave Tbilisi at 19:25 and arrive in London at 21:50 local time. Return flights leave at 22:55 from London and arrive in Tbilisi at 06:35 the following day.

“Direct flights between Tbilisi and London operated by Georgian Airlines are great news for us,” Mako Abashidze, Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), told GEORGIA TODAY.

“The BGCC is to have a very active marketing and advertising campaign in the UK to promote this flight for business and leisure. There is an increasing interest for Georgia as a holiday destination as well as a potential investment opportunity - having direct flights will give us an opportunity to organize regular business trips and roadshows to Georgia,” she said, adding that they will be working very closely with Georgian Airlines to support and promote the flight.

Ekaterine Maisuradze, CEO at IRC Travel, BGCC’s exclusive partner in Georgia for bespoke travel packages to the UK and Georgia, also highlighted the benefits the direct flight is expected to bring. “IRC Tour is a branch of the International Relations Center Ltd, a holding company successfully operating on local and international markets. Our specialized departments offer a diversity of services and in our 10 years of operation, we’ve become a brand signifying quality and reliability,” she said. “Our exclusive partnership with BGCC helps us to offer our loyal customers competitive prices. The new direct flight will help us to offer more comfortable tour packages to meet our client needs and will prove beneficial for everyone- for both Georgian and English travelers and for us at IRC Tour, too”.

“I welcome the opening of a new Georgian Airways flight to London with great enthusiasm as a new possibility for links between the UK and Georgia. A direct flight opens up real potential for more tourism, more trade and more investment in both directions,” Tamar Beruchashvili, Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, told GEORGIA TODAY. “The first quarter of 2017 saw a 26% rise in the number of British visitors to Georgia. The new travel routes will also help increase this inflow of tourists from the UK. Moreover, they will encourage businesses to invest in Georgia, given that together with a very attractive business climate, business travel becomes more convenient and less time-consuming,” she said.

“This new Georgian Airways flight comes at a significant moment in a changing world: a world in which global links and ease of travel to do business are ever more important. I wish Georgian Airways every success with their new opening,” the Ambassador concluded.

Katie Ruth Davies

15 May 2017 17:33