27 Jul 2019 14:24

Georgia's permission necessary to open int'l flights at Sukhum airport - Tbilisi

TBILISI. July 27 (Interfax) - The Georgian Civil Aviation Agency (GCAA) has ruled out possible international flights at the Sukhum airport without the Georgian side's permission.

"No airline is allowed to conduct international flights at the Sukhum airport until a decision on that is made by Georgian Civil Aviation Agency and safety oversight is carried out by the Georgian side," the GCAA said in a statement made in light of the Abkhaz authorities' intention to give the Sukhum airport a joint base airport status and resume flights to and from Russia.

If any airline launches flights to Sukhum, "it will be a violation of the international aviation legislation, as well as the Georgian law on the occupied territories, and complicate this airline's operating further to international and Georgian destinations," the statement said.

"The Sukhum airport has been closed by the Georgian side since 1993. It is not certified by the GCAA. Furthermore, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recognizes Abkhazia as a part of Georgia," it said.

The ICAO did not assign its four-letter location indicator code to the Sukhum airport, as it is only assigned at the application of the authorized aviation authorities, it said.

"It is prohibited to use an airfield in Georgian territory for civil aviation purposes if its operator does not have a valid airfield operator certificate issued by the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency," the statement said.

It was reported on Friday that Abkhaz President Raul Khajimba had signed an order in a government meeting giving the Sukhum airport joint base airport status, which envisages the use of the airport by military and civil planes.

"The modernization of the airport is expected to be followed by the resumption of flights between Abkhazia and Russia, which stopped 26 years ago due to the Georgian-Abkhaz war," Vakhtang Pipia, chairman of the State Committee on State Property Management and Privatization, said.

Abkhaz Prime Minister Valery Bganba has signed a decree on drafting by November 1 of legislation on the use of the republic's air space and on measures to ensure the operation of the international airport Sukhum.

The four-letter international location indicator URAS has been assigned to the Sukhum airport and Abkhazia's airspace to be added to Russia's Aeronautical Information Publication, Pipia said.