The resumption of direct flights between Georgia and the UK should be among the main route development targets for the United Airports of Georgia team, according to a senior executive at Adjara Group Hospitality, the fastest growing, privately held owner and management company in the Georgian hospitality industry.
Speaking at the Routes Silk Road Strategy Summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, Oto Berishvili, business development manager, Adjara Group Hospitality, said that increasing business links with the UK mean that London will become a strategic market for the company.
“With growing Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) demand into Georgia we are finding that flight connectivity remains a big obstacle to our development. The UK and London in particular is a market we need better access to. There are schedules via Istanbul and Munich but not necessarily with a convenient schedule. We can’t develop and fulfil our full potential without a direct flight to London,” he said.
It has been over two years since there were direct flights between Georgia and the UK. British Airways and its franchise partner British Mediterranean Airways (BMED) served the route between London Heathrow and Tbilisi up until October 2007 when the business was purchased by bmi British Midland.
The latter continued to serve the route, albeit offering services via Yerevan from October 2008 and then Baku from March 2010, through to its own sale to British Airways, who resurrected non-stop flights in October 2012 until the route ceased in March 2013.
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.
Adjara Group Hospitality entered the Georgian market in 2010, introducing the Holiday Inn Tbilisi hotel with 270 rooms, which is the highest number of room per hotel in the country. Alongside successful international hotel brand management and active partnership with Intercontinental Hotels Group (HG), the company developed a unique brand Rooms Hotel, turning it into the first ever Georgian hotel chain.
It currently owns and manages three hotels in Georgia: Holiday Inn Tbilisi, Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, and Rooms Hotel Kazbegi providing over 600 jobs in total. It plans to open and manage Crowne Plaza Batumi (Resort hotel, with 170 rooms) and open the new InterContinental Tbilisi (with 250 rooms).