Turkey, Armenia resume first flights in two years

Turkey, Armenia resume first flights in two years

Turkey, Armenia resume first flights in two years

Turkey and Armenia on Feb. 2 resumed their first commercial flights in two years as part of cautious efforts to warm their frozen ties.

The first flight operated by the low-cost carrier FlyOne Armenia landed in a cold and drizzly Istanbul on Feb. 2 evening to a warm reception from airport officials, who welcomed passengers with flowers and chocolates.

“We think these flights are important for preserving ties between the Armenian community in Istanbul and Armenia,” FlyOne’s Armenia chief executive Aram Ananyan told reporters after disembarking the flight.

An overwhelming majority of the 50,000-70,000 Armenians in Turkey live in Istanbul, a metropolis of more than 16 million people.

Ananyan thanked all officials involved in the flights in Turkish.

“Whatever happened in the past has passed,” said Gayane Bulhadaryan, a Turkish-Armenian, who came to Istanbul on the first flight from Yerevan.

“My grandfathers are from [the eastern province of] Erzurum. I lived in Istanbul for 27 years. I’ve been in Yerevan for a year. Turkey is home. I pray for the best [of both countries],” she told daily Milliyet.

A few hours later, a flight run by Turkish Pegasus Airlines took off from another Istanbul airport for Yerevan and was watched by a swarm of Turkish and Azerbaijani reporters.

“I see Armenia and Turkey as brothers: One part of our family is here as the other is in Armenia,” a Turkish passenger, Sezar Yıldırım, said before leaving Istanbul.

Another traveler, Narin Ayvazian, an Armenian living in Turkey, said: “I am sure that more good things will follow.”

Pegasus will fly three flights to and from Yerevan a week. FlyOne plans two weekly return flights.

Passengers were forced to transit via Georgia.

Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations. In December 2021, the two countries appointed special envoys to normalize relations. The special envoys met in Moscow last month for a “constructive” first round of talks.

The neighbors agreed to resume flights at around the same time.