Georgia’s resumption of direct air links with Russia are stirring protest across the country.
Protesters in the country’s capital, Tbilisi, took to the streets over the weekend to protest against the perceived rapprochement between their country and Russia following its decision to rescind a four-year old politically motivated flight ban.
Relations between Georgia and Russia have long been strained due to territorial and political issues inherited from the Soviet era. The two countries fought a brief war in the summer of 2008.
In yet another manifestation of the controversy caused by the renewed air links, the country’s largest airline Georgian Airways has banned the country’s president Salome Zourabichvili from using its services.
This decision follows an announcement made by the Georgian president, who has no executive power and has often expressed views opposed to those of the current government, stating that she would no longer use the services of the Georgian Airways and called on citizens to join the boycott if flights to Russia were resumed.
Privately-owned Georgian Airways, which operates a small international network out of Tbilisi International Airport (TBS), has been experiencing financial difficulties for some time.
On December 31, 2021, the airline declared bankruptcy and entered a restructuring process. It has been for sale since early 2022.
So far just one airline, Azimut, a Russian regional carrier, has announced the launch of air services between the two countries.