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Some Georgian Airlines Flights to Resume

TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia's biggest private airline said Tuesday that Russia had agreed to allow direct charter flights between the two countries over the summer holidays — from May 24 to Nov. 1 — after the flights were stopped by war in 2008.

Many Georgians with strong family ties to Russia have been forced to make pricey stopovers elsewhere to reach Russia since Moscow severed air links in August 2008 after a five-day war over Georgia's rebel province of South Ossetia.

President Dmitry Medvedev said last December that he saw "no problem" in restoring air links, lifting visa requirements for Georgians and opening the only land crossing between Russia and Georgia proper through the Caucasus mountains.

Interfax on Monday cited a ministry official as saying Russia has approved direct charter flights to Tbilisi from May 24 to June 9.

"We received an official confirmation yesterday that charter flights would be resumed from May 24," said Tamaz Gaiashvili, president of Georgian Airways.

The company's spokeswoman Nino Giorgobiani said she hoped that the decision would pave the way for regular flights after Nov. 1.

Three charter flights by Georgian Airways flew to Moscow over the Orthodox festive season in early January, but there have been no direct flights since.

Giorgobiani said there would be three or four flights per week, depending on demand, and that other Georgian and Russian airlines might start offering competitive flights.

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