October 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Georgia's national air carrier, GN Airlines, has launched direct flights between Tbilisi and Astana.
The Kazakh Transportation and Communications Ministry said in a statement today that the new route was inaugurated on October 29 by Georgian Economic Development Minister Irakli Chogovadze.
GN Airlines announced on its company website that the Tbilisi-Astana-Tbilisi flight would operate once a week.
Kazakh media on October 30 quoted Chogovadze as saying the number of roundtrip flights would soon be increased to three per week.
Chogovadze also said direct flights between the Georgian capital and Kazakhstan's second city, Almaty, would begin in early 2007.
Georgian officials say those routes are meant to boost exchanges between Georgia and Kazakhstan, which President Mikheil Saakashvili would like to replace Russia as his country's main economic partner.
GN Airlines President Giorgi Kodua has said that the new routes will also help his country offset the consequences of Russia's economic embargo.
(government.kz and national-avia.com, with Interfax-Kazakhstan)