Armenia’s National Airline Fly Arna Reveals Initial Plans

Credit: Fly Arna

New Armenian flag-carrier Fly Arna will begin its operational life with two Airbus A320s and look to Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East for its initial routes, the company’s backers said Jan. 14.

The airline is being set up as a joint venture by the Armenian National Interests Fund (ANIF) and UAE-based LCC Air Arabia Group, with ANIF holding 51% of the shares and Air Arabia 49%.

The new enterprise will decide within the next couple of weeks whether to source the initial A320s from the open market or from Air Arabia’s fleet of around 50 A320-family aircraft, Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali said during a streamed press conference. “We’ll start with two aircraft, very quickly put the third one on, then organically grow [the fleet].”

The combination of the A320’s range and Armenia’s geographic position at the junction of Europe and Asia Minor meant that many destinations would be within a three to four-hour flight radius.

“Arna” is a contraction of Armenian National Airlines and Fly Arna’s aircraft will be registered in Armenia.

Asked whether Armenia’s position on the European Union’s aviation safety blacklist would affect the new company’s route map, ANIF CEO David Papazian said the question should be referred to the Armenian Civil Aviation Committee but indicated that discussions to resolve the issue were ongoing.

Papazian added that the new airline would operate without any subsidies from the Armenian government.

The small, landlocked Caucasian nation has been without a national carrier since Armavia collapsed in 2013. Prior to that, Armenian Airlines, a 1992 spin-off from Aeroflot following the collapse of the Soviet Union, went bankrupt in 2003. Armenia has a significant diaspora in Russia and parts of western Europe. Fly Arna will be based at the Armenian capital Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport (EVN).

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“The business plan is based on a number of destinations in Central Asia, a lot of the Russian republics, Middle East and surrounding countries,” Ali said. Like LCCs globally, the new carrier will have a dynamic pricing policy. “Our aim is, of course, to stimulate the market to bring more people to and from Armenia,” Ali said.

Fly Arna’s brand identity, revealed during the press conference, makes use of the Armenian flag’s national colors. An accompanying logo, a stylized “A,” resembles a pair of striding legs.

“Fly Arna’s visual identity launch is an important progress in the journey towards the launch of the airline,” Ali said. “This step also marks the beginning of a new era in the growth of Armenia’s aviation sector, not only contributing to the country’s economic growth but providing its people with a reliable and value for money experience. We look forward to its roll-out in the coming weeks.”

Alan Dron

Based in London, Alan is Europe & Middle East correspondent at Air Transport World.