Georgian Airways is the national airline of Georgia. It was founded as Airzena after the fall of the Soviet Union. It became the flag carrier of Georgia in 1999, changing its name to Georgian Airways in 2004.
Today they operate a fleet of eight aircraft, including three Boeing 737NG aircraft, four Embraer E190/195 and one Bombardier CRJ200. Their route network covers predominantly European destinations, with a few flights to Russia and the Middle East, from their hub in Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi.
I took a flight with Georgian Airways from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to Tbilisi, which has a flight time of around four hours thirty minutes.
Georgian Airways partner with KLM in Amsterdam and all ground handling is taken care of by KLM staff.
Security at Schiphol was a breath of fresh air. They have new scanners that don’t require you to take any of your liquids or electronics out of your bag – they can get a 3D image and remove items virtually on the screen. This makes clearing security an absolute breeze. Heathrow is getting these scanners at Terminal 5 soon as well, something I’m looking forward to.
After security was a passport check before I headed through to the huge departure lounge at Schiphol.
It was soon time for boarding and we boarded the bus to take us to the remote stand where our aircraft was awaiting.
My ride to Tbilisi today was an Embraer E190 that was originally operated by Air Canada Express. Inside it still carries the original Air Canada seats, complete with personal TV screens and USB ports, neither of which work.
Safety demo complete, we pushed back and commenced our taxi out to the runway at Schiphol.
The cabin is pretty comfortable, just like on the majority of airlines’ E-Jets. There’s plenty of space even for a tall person.
It’s disappointing that Georgian Airways don’t at least put a moving map display in the back of the seats, or enable the USB power. I can’t imagine it takes a lot of work to get a basic moving map solution installed.
I was looking forward to trying out the cuisine onboard. Georgian cuisine is consistently rated among the best in the world – so I was excited to see what I would be getting for lunch today.
Dinner was served in a microwave tray with a box.
Unfortunately, the contents of the meal fell short of my expectations by a long way! I’m not entirely sure what meat this was supposed to be – although it tasted like a combination of chicken and fish. There was some lukewarm pasta and in the box a small salad dish with a roll and a piece of cake.
The cake was the most appetizing part of this dish, and the only part I finished!
After lunch, a drinks service was brought around; I was surprised to see Georgian Airways serve RC Cola on their flights! I’ve never seen this served outside of the US so I found it very curious how it had found its way onto Georgian Airways.
After a few hours, the beautiful mountain ranges of Georgia came into view, and we commenced our approach into the setting sun.
We touched down at Tbilisi Airport and headed for the terminal. Tbilisi is a major cargo hub, so it’s no surprise that there were numerous cargo aircraft and even an Antonov 124 sitting on the ground here.
We pulled on stand and I disembarked into Tbilisi’s modern terminal. It opened in 2012 after a massive investment from the Georgian government.
Last time I visited Tbilisi, immigration handed out a bottle of Georgian wine to every EU citizen. Alas, it seems they have stopped this now, and I walked, wineless, into the arrivals hall.
I was immediately heckled by numerous illicit taxi drivers as I made my way through the terminal, something that frustrates me at many airports. Some airports handle it better than others – Tbilisi seems to just let them wander around the terminal.
Overall, Georgian Airways are a pretty decent airline. The aircraft was comfortable, the staff friendly and helpful, and they got me to Tbilisi cheaply, and on time. The food is, however, terrible!