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During his speech at the session of the Parliament of Georgia, the Parliamentary Minority MP, Mikheil Machavariani, addressed the Parliamentary Majority and said: "They told me in Kutaisi that you are not putting the airport into official operation just because it was built by Saakashvili."

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took interest in the issue of the King David the Builder Kutaisi Airport and attempted to look into it.

The 24 March 2009 Decree No. 57 of the Government of Georgia on the Rules and Conditions of Issuing Construction Permits divides buildings into five different categories:

  1. I Class – building which do not require a construction permit
  2. II Class – buildings with a low level of risk
  3. III Class – buildings with a medium level of risk
  4. IV Class – buildings with a high level of risk
  5. V Class – buildings with an increased level of risk (buildings of special significance)

The King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport building belongs to the V class category. According to the aforementioned decree, authorisation for issuing a permit and conducting state monitoring of buildings falling under V class (Article 28, Point 2) in Georgia is given only to those bodies responsible for construction work policy; namely, the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. It also issues permits for the construction of buildings with special significance. The monitoring of the buildings and their construction is conducted in two ways:  issuing permits as well as inspecting the implementation of the work being done.

The stages for issuing a permit for the construction of buildings with special significance are as follows:

I Stage: affirming the conditions for using the land plot for construction purposes (architectural-planning work).

II Stage: agreeing upon the project.

III Stage: issuing the construction permit.

Hence, the building of the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport should have undergone the aforementioned stages and received a construction permit from the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency. After this, the same Agency was obliged to put the building into official operation.

According to the decree, the holder of the construction permit for a V class building is obligated to present the building to the authorised administrative body for putting it into official operation within one year of the expiration of the permit (Article 82).

In addition, the decision to put a V class building into operation must be made within 30 days from presenting the required documentation. In any case, if no administrative-legal act is issued within this period, the building will automatically be put into official operation but the appropriate administrative body will be obligated to publish the respective legal act immediately upon the request of the holder of the construction permit.

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addressed the LEPL Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency with a letter about the issue of putting the David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport into official operation. According to the response letter from the Agency, the airport did not become officially operational due to the fact that the construction permit had not ended as the expiration date was set at 31 March 2015. The letter points out that according to the 16 April 2014 Directive, the expiration date of the construction permit was changed from 31 March 2013 to March 2015.

We also talked to a representative of the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport about the issue who redirected us to United Airports of Georgia Ltd. According to the information provided by the company’s Executive Manager, Ivane Petriashvili, a construction permit was issued for a whole airport complex. The construction was divided into separate objects all of which included 15 stages. The major technological systems and the main part of the terminal were ready by September 2012 to the extent that it was possible for the airport to function properly. Due to the high public and state interest, the airport started to operate from the end of September 2012.

Ivane Petriashvili further explained that despite all of this, a number of the construction stages (furnishing, internal construction work, part of communications and auxiliary buildings) were not finished by the expiration date of the construction permit (31 March 2013). The slowing down of the construction work was mainly due to the fact that the airport started operating which meant that work could not be fulfilled within the situation of a functioning active airport. In order to put the airport into official operation, however, it was necessary for an independent expert to approve all of the stages of construction. These aforementioned issues, which were not hindering the functioning of the airport but required obligatory address for the construction process to be considered complete, caused the expiration date of the construction permit to be postponed to 31 March 2015.

According to Mr Petriashvili, the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport did not address the Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency with a request for the airport to be put into official operation until 2015. He added that the request was only sent on 2 March 2015. The Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency officially put the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport into operation on 23 April 2015.

Conclusion

From 2012 to 2015, users of the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport were using the airport’s services whilst the airport itself was not yet officially put into operation. Based upon the information received from the LEPL Technical and Constructions Supervision Agency, the airport had still not been put into official operation as late as 19 March 2015. According to Decree No. 57 of the Government of Georgia on the Rules and Conditions of Issuing Construction Permits, a V class building must be put into official operation within a year after the expiration date of the construction permit. In the case of the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport, the construction permit’s expiration date was 31 March 2013 at first, changing to 31 March 2015 later on.

According to Mikheil Machavariani’s statement, he "was told" in Kutaisi that the airport was not being put into official operation because it "had been built by Mikheil Saakashvili." FactCheck

cannot, of course, exclude that the MP was indeed told such a thing in Kutaisi. However, it is important to point out that the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport did not even address the appropriate administrative body with such a request until 2015. Furthermore, if we take into account the position of the United Airports of Georgia Ltd, the slowing down of the construction in 2012 was due to the fact that the airport had started operating. The expiration date of the construction permit was changed from 31 March 2013 to 31 March 2015. Finally, the King David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport was put into official operation on 23 April 2015.

In this case, FactCheck leaves Mikheil Machavariani’s statement WITHOUT VERDICT.