Armavia suspended from flying to Russia over unpaid debts

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Armenian flag carrier Armavia's services to several Russian cities were disrupted this week due to unresolved financial issues including navigation payments.

Russia's civil aviation agency Rosaviatsia yesterday suspended Armavia's rights to fly in the country's airspace, citing its debts to air navigation authority Goskorporatsiya OrVD.

It disclosed that Armavia has accumulated debts of around $178,000 since December.

"Paying wages to our traffic controllers entirely depends on receiving air navigation fees from the airlines," says a Rosaviatsia spokesman.

"We've notified Armavia about its mounting debt and a possible suspension in providing navigation services several times but it has consistently failed to respond."

A spokesman for Armavia says the move affected about 10 of the carrier's scheduled flights from its hub airport Yerevan Zvartnots to Moscow, St Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don.

Rosaviatsia has since granted Armavia temporary permission to fly in Russia's airspace until 20 March, after it received guarantees from the carrier that it will meet its financial obligations by then.

But Russian industry sources say Armavia's overall financial situation is still cause for concern. They indicate that Moscow Vnukovo Airport last year ceased refuelling its aircraft because of unpaid arrears and the carrier has to take extra fuel for the round trip at Yerevan.