Georgia continues to evacuate its citizens from WHO-recognised high risk countries, as Foreign Minister of Georgia David Zalkaliani has presented earlier today a flight schedule for the next two weeks according to which Georgian citizens from various European cities will be able to return home.
Two flights will be carried out this week. The Tbilisi-Berlin-Tbilisi flight will be operated today ... and tomorrow the Greek Aegean Airlines will bring our citizens from Greece, while citizens of Greece will be able to return to their country", said Zalkaliani.
The flights will be carried out by the national flag carrier Georgian Airways.
Zalkaliani said that “we are working on the next flights” and that it is important Georgian citizens gradually return home in order to ensure that they properly undergo quarantine procedures.
It is important that our healthcare system be well-prepared for our citizens that will come back to Georgia as they have to undergo 14-days quarantine procedures. It is necessary to maintain a precise balance between the quarantine areas and the citizens returning to Georgia", said Zalkaliani.
He added that about 3,000 Georgian citizens have already been brought from different countries to Georgia in a month and half.
Special flights have been carried out from China, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany", said Zalkaliani.
Meanwhile, the government set a maximum limit on the ticket price and it must not exceed €199.
Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava said the state will not subsidise flights of the Georgian Airways as it was announced last week. Turnava said that "we have finished all negotiations" with the Georgian Airways and the decision is that tickets should be sold at an affordable price and that the airline company confirms that they will obey this decision.
We are in a state of emergency and every company, including airline companies, is obliged by the law as well as patriotic motives to comply with our requirements regarding the protection of human health and the uninterrupted fight against coronavirus", said Turnava.
However, there were speculations in the Georgian media regarding the recent announcement of Georgian Airways that several flights which were supposed to bring Georgian citizens back to their home country had been cancelled.
The flight to/from Vienna on the 22nd of March and the flight to/from Amsterdam on the 23rd of March will be cancelled due to the closure of Georgian airspace announced on the 20th of March. Tickets can be used for another date or be left for us until the end of the year", posted Georgian Airways on its Facebook page yesterday.
Local media outlets wrote that the airline said these flights had been cancelled by the government's decision. The airline's management blamed the government and urged a swift response.
In response Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said that "I think the director of Airzena [Georgian Airways] expects to be paid more money, nothing more", when answering to a journalist whose question was whether the PM's order restricted Georgian Airways’ flights or not.
Let's not forget that there is a state of emergency. If the companies do not comply with the state of emergency obligations imposed on them by the state in the interests of our citizens, the heads of these companies will be penalised first, then they will be held criminally responsible and then the companies will be expropriated in the interests of the state - temporarily, of course. Deliver this message to the director of [Georgian Airways]", said Gakharia.
To note, Georgia has shut down air traffic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The government of Georgia left only "government-coordinated flights" in order to help Georgian citizens who are currently abroad and cannot return to their home country due to suspended or cancelled flights.