Aviation in Georgia - A Market Snapshot

Over the past ten years the country's largest international gateway, Tbilisi International Airport has seen a substantial growth in international seat capacity.

The hosting of Routes Silk Road for a second successive year is a clear endorsement of the ambitions of airport operator, United Airports of Georgia to attract new airlines into the country and improve connectivity across the Silk Road as well as into other markets.

ROUTES SILK ROAD 2015 will take place for a second successive year in Tbilisi, Georgia, hosted by United Airports of Georgia. Read the official release.

Located on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia is a historical and hospitable country, which is a gateway connecting several important economic regions including Europe, the Newly Independent States (NIS), Turkey, the Caucasus as well as Central Asia. As a geographical centre of gravity, air traffic has been consistently moving towards east and south, and this trend is expected to continue into the future. The geographical location of countries like Georgia is becoming more important on a global scale, serving air traffic growth and further development of the aviation industry in general.

In recent years Georgia has seen unprecedented growth of air transport, passengers and number of tourists – passenger numbers alone have grown by over 30 per cent since 2012 – and has developed some major infrastructural projects, not least David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport that opened in 2012, Georgia’s first low-cost airport.

In an interview with Routesonline in the build up to this year’s Routes Silk Road, Kate Aleksidze, chief executive officer, United Airports of Georgia, said: “I have a deep belief that Routes Silk Road 2014 will be of great importance to Georgia. This event will promote tourism development within the region, and offer aviation professionals the chance to broaden their network.”

We are now six months on, a period during which the airport operator has secured a number of new air links including the return of scheduled air services between Tbilisi and Moscow and an important hub link feeding into the network of Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The arrival of Etihad is massive for Tbilisi International Airport. The carrier will launch a three times weekly service from October 2, 2015 using an Airbus A320. United Airports of Georgia are working to safeguard the success of the new route and will then seek to boost frequencies in a sustainable manner.

Since forming in 2011 as the airports authority of the state, United Airports of Georgia (UAG) has been sharply focused on developing key aviation infrastructure and growing the country’s airline networks. UAG owns three international airports (Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi) and one domestic gateway (Mestia). TAV Georgia operates Tbilisi and Batumi, while Kutaisi and Mestia are operated by UAG.

Operated by TAV Georgia, alongside Batumi International Airport, Tbilisi International has seen the construction of a new terminal, car park, improvements to the apron, taxiway and runway.  The airport which has been in operation for 20 years has a capacity of 2.8 million passengers per year.

The facility has a total of 25 check-in counters, four gates and 32 passport control gates. In 2013, the airport registered a record amount of passengers, with 1,436,046 visiting the airport, a 17.8 percent increase compared to the previous year.

The new passenger terminal commenced operations on February 7, 2007 and improved the airport to a level that represented the strategic significance of Georgia – the airport is the main entry and exit point for not only the capital city, but the whole of Georgia.

Combined, Georgia’s airports achieved passenger growth of more than 30 percent in 2013. This saw UAG’s passenger numbers reach 1.8 million, up from 1.4 million in 2012. And the good news has continued in 2014.

In our analysis, we've looked at the international seat capacity, and largest airlines operating from Georgia over the past ten years. This includes the three main airports in Georgia - Tbilisi Airport, Kutaisi Airport and Batumi Airport.

Data provided by OAG

The above chart demonstrates the international seat capacity from the three main airports in Georgia between 2005 and 2014. Tbilisi Airport has registered a growth year-on-year, with an overall growth of 179.5 percent over the ten year period. Kutaisi Airport has had a varied set of data, registering a dramatic decrease in international seats between 2008 and 2009. However, the airport's international seat capacity saw a tremendous increase in 2013 compared to 2012, thanks to low-cost carrier Wizz Air.

Data provided by OAG

The above chart demonstrates the destinations served from Tbilisi Airport, and shows the overall increase in destinations between 2005 and 2014. The airport did however suffer a steady decrease in destinations served from 2009 - 2011.

Data provided by OAG

Our data above highlights the largest airlines in Georgia based on international seat capacity. The greatest level of capacity is from Turkish Airlines, which has an 18.6 percent share of all traffic, with a 13.8 percent rise in comparison to 2013. The biggest change comes from Istanbul-based Atlasjet Airlines, which has seen a 600 percent increase in Tbilisi international capacity share in comparison to 2013. The greatest decrease comes from fellow Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines who suffered a 40.3 percent decrease in traffic in and out of the country.