On April 30, a company called Taron-Avia operated a flight from Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport to Amman, the capital of Jordan.
We sent a letter to Armenia’s General Department of Civil Aviation (GDCA) to find out more about this flight.
The GDCA responded that the flight was connected to the airplane’s technical servicing. There is no news about the plane’s return to Yerevan. The company, by the way, is based at the Erebouni Airport, not Zvartnots.
While Taron Avia stated on its website that it would be operating regular and charter flights with Boeing 737-500 type aircraft for the summer 2015 season (March –October), the GSCA claims that right now isn’t reviewing any petitions to operate air routes. In fact, the company has no such permits.
There is little information to be found on the company’s new website; just that it was founded in August 2007. Its stated aim was to fill the void given the lack of national carriers. It would first transport passengers and cargo to CIS countries.
Looking through various data bases we find that company’s sole shareholder is Garnik Papikyan, registered in Gyumri. He also serves as company director. Papikyan’s home residence is used as the company’s legal address, even though, according to aviation websites, the firm is based at Erebouni Airport.
The company’s website states that it has three planes in its fleet: a Boeing 737-500 (EK-73797), and two cargo carriers – one Il-76TD (EK-76021) and one AN-12BP (EK-12129).
But the Il-76TD has been used by Skiva Air, based in the UAE city of Sharja, since 2011. Taron Avia’s website says that this plane is located in Sharja but fails to mention that it bears another number – EK-76921 (a number given to Skiva Air). Taron Avia operated the AN-12BP from 2007-2011, and it now appears to be grounded in Sharja.
According to the GDCA’s airplane registry, Taron Avia presently has three Boeing 737-500 planes. One was used in 2013-2014 by Air Armenia. (Given Air Armenia’s financial difficulties, the plane’s operation permit was obtained by Taron Avia)
The plane in question, both in the case of Air Armenia and Taron Avia, bore the number EK-73797. The other two Boeings (EK-73772 and EK-73775) are planes that once belonged to the now bankrupt Armavia.
According to aviation data bases Armavia operated them from 2011-2013. Prior to this, the operator was Czech Airlines. According to aerotransport.org, the EK-73775 is now located in Amman. Garnik Papikyan confirmed this info to Hetq, adding that the third Boeing will be sent for servicing in ten days.
Mr. Papikyan said that he filed 49 air route operator petitions with the Ministry of the Economy in February. According to the law, the filer must present all documents to the ministry 25 working days before the start of the planned flight. The petition then goes to the GDCA for review and a final decision is made in five days.
Within eight days a summarized decision then gets sent to a review council for final approval. This process takes eleven working days. Once the GDCA gets the council’s approval, the GDCA chief has one day to issue an operational permit. Final rejection or a permit approval then gets forwarded to the Ministry of the Economy. This takes one day. The permit is then issued to the filer.
All in all its takes 28 working days for the petition filer to receive a final answer. But, as we have seen, the GDCA isn’t reviewing any such files. So where is Papikyan’s paperwork?
Since being founded, Taron Avia has had ten planes. In addition to the five mentioned above, it operated four AN-12s and an IL-76.
As for what’s in store for aviation in Armenia, if we believe Air Armenia head Arsen Avetisyan, as of May 20 the company will once again take to the skies after a lull since the fall of last year.
Avetisyan has stated that the company is planning to lease from two to four planes from the Dutch AerCap company.
We asked the GDCA if the permits issued Air Armenia had been cancelled based on lack of use.
The GDCA responded that the company had presented an action plan aimed at obtaining planes and operating air routes.
“Consequently, taking into account the deadlines noted by the company, the air route operating permits formerly issued ar still in force within the prescribed deadlines,” the GDCA responded, adding that currently Air Armenia has no operating airplanes.