Recently, an agreement was signed between the Armenian National Interests Fund and Air Arabia, according to which a new Armenian national airline shall be established.
According to aviation experts, however, it is impossible to create a national carrier by a single agreement, or such a deal.
According to Hakob Tshagharyan, a former adviser to the Prime Minister and an aviation specialist, Armenia needs national carriers, but such a plan is just empty talk without having mechanisms to regulate the national aviation sector, and a level playing field for local air carriers.
"Air Arabia has not signed any agreement to become a national carrier in Armenia. They signed a cooperation agreement, which is falsely presented by the [Armenian] authorities as the creation—with an experienced airline—of a national air carrier for Armenia. This process is just an eyepiece.
A national air carrier is not created by signing a contract with any company. A national carrier is a local carrier that is able to occupy—with its work—its unique place in the air transportation market of its country. We can even have 100 planes, but where should you fly?” said Tshagharyan.
Also, he wonders if more than 50% of the shares of this national air carrier will be in the hands of the Armenian side, and how is it that the controlling package will belong to Air Arabia.
"It is unacceptable to transfer the controlling package in the management of a national airline to a foreign carrier. If the company comes to invest in our country, it must be guided by our laws, whereas the laws of the Republic of Armenia do not allow such a thing,” the aviation expert noted, in particular.
He added. "If it is a national carrier, will those planes work for Armenia during war? Will these planes do the work done by the Armenian-registered planes belonging to Armenian owners? Of course not."
Aviation consultant Navik Khachatryan, in turn, raises another issue: "It is necessary to know who the shareholders [of an Armenian national air carrier] are. It is good that, for example, it does not turn out that [Turkish President] Erdogan's relative bought its shares a month ago. If the company has shareholders who are somehow connected with Turkey, this cannot but cause concern," Khachatryan said.