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CIS carrier FlyGeorgia is poised to make an official application for rights to fly into Jeddah. The full-service Tbilisi-based carrier has already announced two new routes that will be launched this month, with flights to Baghdad and Najaf in Iraq, but is now eyeing Jeddah for scheduled services and is preparing documentation to open the flights, said commercial director Shiin Thomas in an exclusive interview with The HUB at Routes Europe. “We want to operate there as a scheduled carrier – otherwise we won’t do it,” he said.
From June, FlyGeorgia – which currently flies to Düsseldorf, Dubai, Kiev and Tehran – is set to add Barcelona, Brussels, Frankfurt and Stockholm to its network. Tbilisi – Brussels flights had been due to open earlier but the carrier is now “waiting for documentation”, said Thomas.
FlyGeorgia targets a hub operation at Tbilisi, he added. “We want to have our identity as a hub carrier,” he said. “We don’t want to be identified as point-to-point.” At the Routes Europe networking forum in Budapest, FlyGeorgia is also meeting with London gateways with a goal of starting a Tbilisi–London route in the third or fourth quarter of this year. “We are preparing to apply to start London and India routes,” he added. In traffic from India, the carrier has identified three distinct markets: tourists, students and transit passengers to European destinations such as Frankfurt and the UK.
FlyGeorgia will expand its A320-family fleet to serve its new routes, with a goal of growing from three planes now to between five and seven by year-end, said Thomas. Within its region, Georgia has a unique tourism appeal for travellers from the GCC, who see it as an alternative to London or Malaysia, according to the executive. “Tbilisi is a destination for throughout the year. Gudauri is an excellent winter destination as a ski resort. In summer, Batumi is a very popular seaside resort,” he said.
(by Piers Evans, Deputy Editor - Routes News)