Georgia’s China-funded airline takes off

TBILISI, March 31 (The Conway Bulletin) — Georgia’s new MyWay airline, financed by China’s Hualing Group which sees Tbilisi as an important part of the Chinese Belt and Road strategy to link Asia and Europe, flew to Tehran for its inaugural passenger flight.

MyWay, which has a fleet of four Boeing aircraft, is the second airline based out of Georgia. It was only set up last year with a $43.4m investment from Hualing which has openly-stated that it wants to use MyWay to develop routes between Europe and Asia.

In an interview with local media last month, MyWay commercial director Igor Aptsiauri emphasised this point.

“First we will concentrate more on point-to-point traffic,” he said. “But, over the years, with the expansion of our network and our fleet, we will try to further increase transit passengers (to Asia).”

On its website, MyWay says that during the first phase of its operations it will develop flights to the Middle East and the rest of the former Soviet Union and then to Europe.

“During the third phase we will launch flights to China and USA thus establishing most extensive route network from and to Georgia,” it said. “A passenger Boeing 777 will join the fleet for intercontinental long-haul flights, which will be a novelty for the Georgian aviation market.”

Hualing Group has been expanding across Central Asia and the South Caucasus, spearheading the infrastructure-focused Belt and Road initiative. It now says that it operates eight projects in Georgia, with a total investment of $500m and 3,000 employees.

The choice of MyWay’s inaugural destination also underlines the growing friendship that Georgia and Iran have built up over the last few years. MyWay became the eighth airline to open a direct scheduled flight between the two capitals. Georgia has become a popular destination for Iranian holidaymakers and for businessmen wanting to get closer to Europe and the West.

>>This story was first published on April 6 in issue 367 of The Conway Bulletin

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