Report: Flight from Breakaway Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia Boarding Soon
The disputed territory Nagorno Karabakh is preparing for its first flight in nearly two decades after its airport shut down in 1991 amidst the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and Karabakh separatists over the region, RFE/RL's Armenian service reports.
With Karabakh’s status in abeyance, the airport in the capital, Stepanakert, is unlikely to have an international arrivals section. All flights will be bound for Armenia, the territory's ethnic kin and sovereign best friend.
Karabakh's de facto aviation officials expect the daily Stepanakert-Yerevan flights on Air Artsakh (Artsakh is the name widely used by Armenians for Nagorno Karabakh) to begin in May. A round-trip ticket on the airline's three 50-seat CRJ200 jets is expected to cost from $50 to $60, Regnum reported.
How Karabakh plans to deal with the International Civil Aviation Organization, which assigns the airport codes used in flight plans, is an unknown. Karabakh is recognized officially as part of Azerbaijan; under ICAO rules, therefore, it presumably would be up to Baku to request that the Stepanakert airport gets an international code.
The Georgian government faced a similar tussle last year when breakaway Abkhazia claimed that it would receive an international code for its airport via Russia.
Azerbaijan has not commented on the announcement, but is unlikely to take it in stride. Baku recently slapped Poland on the wrist after a visit to Karabakh by a Polish parliamentarian; such trips will be considered "a violation of the state border of the Azerbaijan Republic" if not approved previously with the Azerbaijani government, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry warned.