Georgia’s national flag carrier has labelled the country’s President ‘persona non grata’ and banned her from flying on its planes after she criticized the carrier for its decision to restart flights between the Georgian capital, Tbilisi and Russia.
In a statement, the chief executive of Georgian Airways said pro-Western President Salome Zourabichvili would not be allowed to fly with the airline until she had apologized to the Georgian people, according to a statement published by Russia’s Tass news agency.
The decision by Georgian Airways to resume flights between Georgia and Russia came just days after the Kremlin lifted a flight ban between the two countries in a significant and not uncontroversial warming of diplomatic relations.
Georgia has faced a barrage of criticism from Ukraine and the European Union over its willingness to resume flights to Russia, but Georgia Airways has slammed politicians who have levelled criticism at the airline for restarting Russian-bound flights.
In response to the president’s call to boycott Georgia Airways, the carrier said it had declared her “persona non grata until she apologizes to the Georgian people, we will not let her on board.”
In a lengthy Facebook post the airline continued: “It should be emphasized here that Georgian Airways currently employ heroes fighting for the territorial integrity of Georgia.”
“It’s a shame that someone dares to call our company a traitor! It is clear that the ruling forces behind this dirty campaign are ready to go against their own country and people’s interest in accepting foreign grants.”
Zourabichvili claims the Kremlin’s decision to lift its flight ban was a “provocation” and that resuming flights is unacceptable so long as President Putin continues to wage his war in Ukraine.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.