Direct air links between Georgia and Russia could be reestablished for the first time since 2019, when they were unilaterally banned by Russia after a wave of anti-Russian protests swept through Georgia.
On May 10, 2023, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree rescinding the ban as well as also dropping visa requirements for Georgian citizens visiting Russia for less than 90 days.
Following this announcement, it was reported in the Georgian media that the Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia had received several applications from Russian airlines interested in resuming flights to Tbilisi and other Russian cities such as Batumi and Kutaisi. However, the Georgian aviation authority stated that it will not let Russian airlines or aircraft that were placed under international sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine into the country.
Several opposition forces in Georgia as well as the country’s president, which is an office separate from the government and holds no executive power, have also come out strongly against the resumption of flights in view of the international situation. Georgia and Russia have long had a complicated relationship, frayed by unresolved territorial issues and the effects of the war between the two countries in 2008.
Speaking to Georgian TV channel Imedi, the head of the Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia confirmed that the first Russian airline to be granted the right to fly between Moscow and Tbilisi is Azimut, a regional airline based in southern Russia which operates a fleet of Sukhoi SSJ100 Superjet aircraft.