Profitable until 1997, Armenian Airlines began a decline in 1998 which executive director Arsen Avetisian blamed on the 1998 Russian financial crisis. Additionally, technical problems with its sole Airbus A310 helped guide the company towards financial problems. Cooperation was started with the new Belgian operator VG Airlines (later renamed Delsey Airlines); but the Belgian operator had to file for bankruptcy on November 5, 2002. Armenian Airlines was reported to be looking for cooperation with Armenian International Airways to continue or restart its flights into Europe. When Armavia (which was owned by Siberia Airlines) entered into an agreement with the Armenian government and was granted most of Armenian Airlines' flight rights, including the lucrative Yerevan to Moscow route, Armenian Airlines was unable to recover, and officially declared bankruptcy on April 15, 2003.
On May 3, 2006, it was widely reported that an Armenian Airlines Airbus A320 had crashed in the Black Sea. The reports were evidently mistaken, since the airline had ceased operations in 2004. In fact, the airline involved in the crash was Armavia, the successor of Armenian Airlines. All 113 passengers and crew on board died.
Armenian Airlines Tupolev Tu-134A at Moscow (Vnukovo) Airport in 1994
After being established, Armenian Airlines operated old Antonov An-12, Tupolev Tu-134, Tupolev Tu-154, Ilyushin Il-86, Yakovlev Yak-42 airplanes from the Soviet era. But following tightening of environmental regulations, these Ukrainian and Russian-built planes were banned from landing in European airports because they did not meet emissions and noise standards. Because of this, Armenian Airlines began leasing an Airbus A310 in 1998, with an option to buy. The contract stirred controversy among those who questioned why the Government airline was, for the first time, using a non-Russian-built aircraft. But some foreign agencies doing business in Armenia said they could not get life insurance for employees who flew on old Russian planes due to the aircraft history of problems. The Airbus, then, became the European link for the "official airline of Armenia".
Armenian Airlines faced disruption on its European operations following an engine failure on its sole Airbus A310 on January 21, 2002, which caused a Yerevan-Paris flight to turn around mid-air and return to Zvartnots International Airport where the crippled Airbus landed safely. On January 28 of the same year, representatives of Armenian Airlines visited London to discuss means for getting the Airbus repaired. According to directors of the company, the repair bill could have gone as high as $2 million, the quickest solution being to replace the damaged engine. Otherwise, the engine would have to be sent either to Brussels, Belgium, or Toulouse, France, for repairs. The A310 was the only aircraft in the Armenian Airlines fleet that met European aviation regulations. It flew every day on routes to Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt.