Monthly comparative figures have shown that the largest number of Georgian passengers travelled to Ukraine in November 2013. The figure was 27,819. In December the number dropped to 25,972. In January 2014, 23,382 passengers travelled to Ukraine and in February - 20,766.
“The number of departures to Ukraine will not decrease in 2014 in comparison to 2013,” said Alexander Gachechiladze, Head of the Transportation Department at the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency (GCAA).
According to Gachechiladze, the total number of flights from Georgia to Ukraine was 26 per week. “1,500 flights will be carried out in the direction of Ukraine during the current year,” said Gachechiladze.
Ukraine International Airlines (MAU) remained the single airline offering Tbilisi -Kiev direct flights, since Aerosvit left the Georgian market more than a year ago. Currently the ticket price for a Tbilisi -Kiev round trip is USD 326, while it is USD 185 for one way.
The Ukrainian unrest began on the night of 21 November, 2013, when protests erupted in the capital, Kiev , after the Ukrainian Government suspended preparations for signing an Association Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, in order to seek closer economic relations with Russia. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich had asked for USD 20 billion in loans and aid. The EU was willing to offer EUR 610 million (USD 838 million) in loans. However Russia was willing to offer USD 15 billion in loans. Russia also offered Ukraine cheaper gas prices. In addition to the money, the EU required major changes to the regulations and laws in the Ukraine ; Russia, however, did not. On 24 November, 2013, the first clashes between protesters and police began. Protesters strived to break the cordon. Police used tear gas and batons, protesters also used tear gas and some firecrackers.
“The current unrest in Ukraine has not been reflected in the Georgian tourism sector at this stage,” said Giorgi Sigua, Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration. In his words, Ukraine is a very important tourist market for Georgia and this is one of the top-five countries for us in this regard.
The total number of passengers that arrived in Georgia from Ukraine in 2013 was 126,797.
Following Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ukraine is the third largest country of all the CIS members for Georgian exporters. Products worth USD 192,767,100 in total were exported from Georgia, up from the USD 167,016,300 of last year’s figure. With USD 602,360,800 Ukraine was the second largest importer country out of the CIS in 2013, after Azerbaijan.
Nodar Khaduri, Minister of Finance of Georgia, is optimistic that the ongoing situation in Ukraine will not have an impact on the Georgian economy. “Georgian producers will not give up the Ukrainian market,” said Khaduri.
“In my view, Georgian producers will not give up the Ukrainian market and besides local obstacles, Georgian products will remain on the Ukrainian market,” said Khaduri.