Wednesday, July 10, 2024
Wednesday, July 10, 2024
Home » Armenian Airlines – The Turkish Connection

Armenian Airlines – The Turkish Connection

by Manough Topalian
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Armenian Airlines, one of the nine carriers licensed to operate commercial flights in Armenia, is the only one to have a Turkish citizen as an owner.

Founded in 2021, Armenian Airlines LLC has nothing to do with the 1990s state-owned Armenian Airlines CJSC, which was declared bankrupt in 2003 and dissolved in December 2020. Aviator Ararat Sargsyan registered the new company a few weeks later.

This airline is affiliated with another company with Turkish roots, Pegas Touristik.

Armenian Airlines operates flights from Yerevan to Moscow, Sochi, Samara, Istanbul and plans new flights to Delhi, Tehran, Beirut and Batumi.

Sargsyan, who is also the company’s director, was the sole owner until January 2023. 

Sargsyan’s business links to Pegas Touristik

We previously wrote that Sargsyan’s Alliance Aircompany, which had an airline license but never took off, is currently, according to open Internet sources, the representative of the Russian Severny Veter (North Wind) LLC in Armenia. This Russian airline is better known as Nordwind Airlines. Karineh Vitalevna Bukrey owns 4.9% of the latter, and the remaining 95.1% is owned by the Russian Pegas LLC, which in turn is fully owned by the same Karineh Bukrey. Thus, the only actual owner of Nordwind Airlines is Bukrey According to Kommersant, the latter is the wife of Turkish businessman Ramazan Akpinar, who owns the Russian Pegas Touristik LLC.

Pegas Touristik is a well-known and large company in the field of tourism. It’s considered the parent company not only of Nordwind Airlines, but also of another Russian carrier, Ikar Airlines LLC (In 2015-2022, it was represented by the Pegas Fly brand). Moreover, the sole owner of Ikar is Karineh Bukrey. Nevertheless, the real owner of all these Russian companies is seen as Ramazan Akpinar. Pegas Touristik is also linked to the newly created Turkish Southwind Airlines (whose name and logo are designed to resemble the Russian Nordwind Airlines).

Let’s note that the first plane of Armenian Airlines, Airbus A321 (with registration number EK-AAD), which in 2021-2022 was stationed in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, according to planespotters.net, was supposed to be transferred to Turkey to join the local Southwind Airlines fleet, but was transferred to Yerevan, joining Armenian Airlines instead.

The second Airbus A321 of Armenian Airlines (reg. number EK-AAB) was operated by the Russian Nordwind Airlines (2017-2022), but after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and came under Western sanctions, including in the field of aviation, this Airbus A321 was transferred from Russia to Istanbul in March and then to Ljubljana, from where it was brought to Yerevan this year.

Given this history, it’s not surprising that the new owners of Armenian Airlines are persons linked to Pegas Touristik.

The new owners of Armenian Airlines

In January 2023, Yerevan resident Ararat Sargsyan just owned 10% of the carrier.

Hermineh Hovhannisyan, an Armenian citizen owns 22%. She worked at the Turkish AtlasGlobal airline that once operated Istanbul-Yerevan roundtrip flights before going bankrupt in 2020. She now works at Kaçkar Tour, a travel agency in Istanbul.

Mikhail Asriyan, who holds Russian and Armenian citizenship, owns 19%. He previously worked at the Kazakh branch of Pegas Touristik. In 2013, Asriyan founded Pegas Touristic LLC in Yerevan, which changed its name to Arion Tour in 2014. The latter still represents the Russian company in Armenia.

Let’s note that Armenian law stipulates that at least 51% of the shares of airlines holding aircraft operator certificate (AOC) must belong to Armenian citizens or other companies/organizations registered in Armenia. Sargsyan, Hovhannisyan and Asriyan own 51% of the airline, thus complying with the law.

The remaining 49% is owned by foreign nationals.

24% is registered under the name of Bulgarian citizen Rosen Boyanov. The latter is also related to Pegas Touristik as evidenced by the fact that he is the owner of PGS Travel founded in Kyiv in 2015. In addition, previously Boyanov was a member of the audit committee of the Ukrainian Kharkiv Airlines while Ramazan Akpinar was a member of the supervisory board. This airline, which has not operated since 2015, is almost entirely owned by the Ukrainian Pegas Touristik company. 

The identity of the foreign national who owns 25% of Armenian Airlines is of more interest.

Öz Yakuphanoğullarindan, a Swiss citizen from Izmir, is an IT specialist who studied at Istanbul’s Kuleli Military High School in the 1980s. Founded in 1845, it was the oldest of its kind in Turkey until its closure following the failed 2016 military coup. The school was turned into a museum.

Yakuphan went on to study at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University and then received a master’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the United States. According to rocketrich.co, he’s a member of the board of directors of the Russian Pegas Touristik and the company’s CIO (Chief information officer). Yakuphan’s wife, Oksana Yakuphan, according to social media, is the personnel director of Pegas Touristik.

Thus, since January 2023, 90% of Armenian Airlines has been owned by Armenians and foreigners linked to a business with Turkish roots.

Source : HETQ

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