Public Radio of Armenia
Yell Extreme Park Company is offering tourists Stepanakert-Shushi flights, an initiative that has sparked outrage in Azerbaijan. Baku says the air tours ‘damage the negotiation process.’
Founding Director of Yell Extreme Park Tigran Chibukhchyan says Azerbaijan’s protests played more of an advertising role.
Flights have been carried out from Stepanakert Airport ever since its liberation. The issue was politicized in 2008, when the Artsakh authorities undertook to renovate the Airport and announced plans to start passenger flights. Regular flights were never launched, because Baku moved the issue to a political domain.
However, helicopters have been flying there regularly. Helicopters carrying the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and high-ranking officials from Armenia also land at Stepanakert Airport.
Azerbaijan has been raising the issue over and over again, claiming that the flights violate its airspace. This was the case a few years ago, when the airport purchased two small planes for domestic flights.
The planes have since been used for agricultural purposes or for tourist flights.
Aside from being a political show, Azerbaijan’s noise pursues practical purposes, as well. The air tours make Artsakh better known to the world and break he stereotypes of a war zone. This is what the Yell Extreme Park is trying to achieve.
The company is currently caring out eight flights a day, but the demands will tend to grow, says Samvel Tavadyan, head of Aviation Department of the NKR Ministry of Economy.