Georgia aviation market Part 2: a case study on liberal policies driving rapid airport growth

Georgia’s three international airports have benefitted from a liberal aviation policy, which has led to a period of rapid traffic growth. As highlighted in the first half of this report, total passenger traffic in Georgia increased by 26% in 2016 and is projected to grow by another 40% in 2017.

Passenger traffic at Georgia’s main gateway, Tbilisi International Airport, increased by 22% in 2016. Tbilisi traffic has grown from only 700,000 in 2009 to 2.3 million in 2016. The airport has been operated by Turkey’s TAV since 2007.

Georgia’s other two international airports, at Batumi and Kutaisi, grew even faster in 2016. Batumi also has been operated by TAV since 2007, while Kutaisi has been government owned since it opened in 2012. 

Kutaisi is marketed as a low cost airport – the first of its kind in former Soviet republics – and has experienced an accelerated rate of growth since the opening of a base by Wizz Air in Sep-2016. Georgia’s investment in Kutaisi, and decision to pursue an LCC model for the new airport, represent another example of a liberal and innovative approach in a region dominated by legacy thinking.

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