The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) met Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) officials about launching direct flights between the United States and Armenia, an ANCA policy priority that will – in addition to saving travelers time and inconvenience – substantially boost tourism, increase business travel, expand cargo traffic, and strengthen U.S.-Armenia bilateral economic relations.
The discussions with LAWA Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint and Deputy Executive Director and Chief of External Affairs Trevor Daley provided an opportunity for a positive and constructive exchange of views about the practical steps needed to establish direct air service between LAX and Zvartnots Airport (EVN) in Yerevan. The ANCA was represented by Chairman Raffi Hamparian and long-time community leader Zanku Armenian, who has extensive experience in the commercial aviation industry, having worked with each of the major U.S. airlines on bilateral aviation agreements and a range of aviation-related regulatory and policy issues.
“We welcome our constructive engagement with the senior leadership of LAWA and value their willingness to facilitate discussions among a diverse set of U.S. and Armenian public and private stakeholders to realize our goal of direct LAX to Yerevan flights,” said Raffi Hamparian.
The ANCA is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to support a public-private partnership regarding establishing U.S. to Armenia flights, involving U.S. airlines and relevant government agencies, among them the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Transportation Security Administration. These direct flights would serve the purpose of both passenger and cargo traffic.
“Establishing a direct Los Angeles to Armenia route aligns well with LAWA’s vision for the future – involving a far-ranging $5 billion upgrade that will both solidify its position as a world class global travel hub and expand its reach to new locations around the world. We look forward to continuing our discussions and to working with the LAWA team on this mutually beneficial initiative for Southern California,” said Zanku Armenian.
Speaking about the major LAX upgrade, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said: “we’re making LAX a world-class airport befitting a city that is the global capital of creativity, innovation and possibility.” Los Angeles is currently a leading contender for the 2024 Olympics.
Armenia, with its world class Zvartnots airport, has solid tourism infrastructure and is witnessing steady annual tourism growth. It is an increasingly in-demand destination for family, business, healthcare, technology, and education related travel. Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, is a growing financial center, home to a thriving business community with strong ties to Eurasia and the Middle East. Direct U.S.-Armenia flights would, in addition to saving travelers time and inconvenience, deliver financial benefits to airline carriers and also material advantages to business leaders, commercial enterprises, and investors in both countries.
In addition to direct flights, the ANCA is pursuing an array of economic initiatives to grow the U.S.-Armenia bilateral commercial relationship. Since the 2015 signing of historic U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – a longstanding ANCA priority – U.S. commercial activity in Armenia, has increased dramatically, with $500,000,000 in new American investments. The ANCA is working to remove barriers to bilateral cooperation, including through a long overdue U.S.-Armenia Double Tax Treaty that will eliminate the threat of double taxation of firms operating in both countries. At a more fundamental level, the ANCA is working with U.S. and Armenian stakeholders in support of a new Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs in public schools.
Progress in all of these areas: 1) direct flights; 2) a Double Tax Treaty, and; 3) a MCC STEM compact will advance U.S. regional and economic interests, creating jobs in both countries, reinforcing Armenian independence in the face of pressure from regional powers, and strengthening America’s enduring friendship with the Armenian people.