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28 Dec, 2009 21:31

Charter flights between Russia and Georgia put back

Georgia says it will not be ready to resume flights between Moscow and Tbilisi for the festive season.

“The flights will not take place tomorrow or the day after, as we do not have enough time. But the flights will take place between January 6 and 25," a spokesman for the Georgian company told RIA Novosti on Monday.

Earlier, Russia temporarily reopened an air route from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Tbilisi.

Georgian Airways was granted permission from Russia's Transport Ministry to operate the route. The Georgian air carrier was allowed to conduct charter flights only for two days, December 29 and 30.

On December 23, Russian transport officials sent an official request to Tbilisi to provide the technical details needed to arrange the flights, asking to finalize the deal as soon as possible, given the holiday season.

“The Georgian authorities unfortunately responded only five days later, after the second request,” read an official statement from the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry. “Letters from the Russian Transport Ministry were returned without consideration and with the demand to send them again via the Swiss embassy, which represents Russia in Georgia.”

The move contradicts humanitarian and consular agreements reached between the governments of Russia and Switzerland and between Georgia and Switzerland, the ministry pointed out. “But even this is not the point,” the ministry stated. “Deliberate delays and red tape make it impossible to arrange the flights on time that people from Russia and Georgia have been eagerly anticipating. Apparently this is the aim of official Tbilisi.”

The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry claims Tbilisi intentionally postponed negotiations on reopening charter flights between Russia and Georgia.

Direct flights between the countries were suspended three years ago following a spy row in 2006. They resumed for a short time in 2008, but were halted again after Georgia's armed aggression against South Ossetia in August 2008.