MAviO News

The launch of an Armenian airline thanks to KM

The launch of Armenian International Airways.

One of the chapters that has been overlooked many a time in the history of Air Malta was the launch of Armenian International Airways which was made possible thanks to the technical and operational input of what was then the Maltese national carrier. The contract came to fruition, thanks to the excellent reputation that KM had built over the years with the highest echelons at Toulouse. The Armenian airline was privately owned and based at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan.

Photo: Captain James Dunford (via Captain Philip Darmanin)

The single Airbus A320 registered EK-32001 was managed by ILFC and initially delivered to Canada 3000 in May 1993. AIA took delivery of the twinjet in September 2002. From the outset, the company had an ambitious plan of expansion which included the induction of another two Airbus A320 aircraft for flights to Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt among others. This latter plan never materialised and in early 2005, Armenian International Airways merged with the now defunct Armavia, which historically has craved its name in history books as the launch customer of the Superjet SSJ100.

The Air Malta team working on the project included Captain Franz Sturmeir, Captain Laurence Gatt (RIP), Captain Joe Sciberras, Captain Anton Galea and Captain Philip Darmanin. Accompanying the team, were First Officers Chris Calleja and James Dunford. (they have since been promoted to captains).

Captain Laurence Gatt (RIP) and Captain Joe Farrugia with the AIA crew. (Photo: Captain James Dunford via Captain Philip Darmanin)

Unfortunately, the sole Airbus A320 in the fleet met a tragic end when a fire engulfed the SN Technics hangar during the first week of May 2006 and destroyed four aircraft including EK-32001. Together with the latter mentioned aircraft a C-130 belonging to the Belgian Air Force, an A320 belonging to Hellas Jet (SX-BVB) and an Armavia A320 (EK-32010) also suffered a similar fate.

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