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First Flight from Russia to Georgia Causes Rising Tensions

First Flight from Russia to Georgia Causes Rising Tensions


On Saturday, May 19th, the first flight from Russia to Georgia landed since the flight ban in 2019. The flight was met with many protesters as tensions flared between the two groups.


Photo: Gautham Kurup | AeroXplorer


Russia announced on May 10th that flights would be resumed between Georgia and Russia. The unexpected lift on the four-year-old ban and lifting of the visa from Georgia's requirement was met with much backlash from the people in Georgia for obvious reasons. 


The two countries were at war 15 years ago and due to the invasion of Ukraine last year, the people are understandably wary. The pro-Western country fears creating a connection to Russia, because it may create a pro-Russian sentiment. A sentiment that Georgia has fought desperately to abandon.




Protesters on Landing


As soon as Azimuth Airlines Flight A4851 landed at Tbilisi International Airport on Friday afternoon, passengers were greeted by peaceful protesters holding signs and shouting phrases like "You are not welcome." and "Why did you come here? Your country is an occupier!" Georgian police were dispersed on that.


Photo: Connor Rhead | AeroXplorer


Although the people of Georgia are uncertain of this new tie to Moscow, the government has stated its reasons. The direct flight between the two countries could bring up to $400 million in annual revenue, according to Economics Minister Levan Davitashvili. The lifting of the visa requirements could also allow Georgians to meet family in Russia.


Future Plans


The predicted economic benefits of this connection to Moscow have been proven by the ongoing war in Ukraine. After the invasion, thousands of Russian professionals fled to Georgia, adding more than $2.8 billion to the economy and have created a demand for more products. While this may have lowered unemployment rates, Georgia still has an unemployment rate of 17.3%, which forecasts potential workers migrating to Russia for employment.




Other airlines may also apply for slots for this new route, creating more employment opportunities. Currently, Russian Airlines, Azimuth Airlines, and Red Wings have routes between Russia and Georgia. More airlines may decide to join them and apply for slots as well. Despite this, the new route between Russia and Georgia is still a major dispute between the people of Georgia and its government. 

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