Azerbaijan eyes AZAL fleet renewal, Euro expansion by 2020
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has issued a suite of Strategic Road Maps which will see AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines' ageing aircraft fleet updated, airport infrastructure upgraded, and direct flights to Europe doubled. The comprehensive set of measures also paves the way for greater liberalisation and privatisation in the air sector, ch-aviation reports.
Among the decrees is a measure to conduct negotiations over the renewal of AZAL's Airbus Industrie and Embraer fleets before 2020. At present, AZAL's mainline passenger fleet consists of three A319-100s, seven A320-200s, two A340-500s, one EMB-170, and four EMB-190s (with two more due for delivery this year) all with an average age of 10.1 years of age. The carrier also operates four B757-200s, three B767-300(ER)s, and two B787-8s.
The government has also committed to developing a dedicated low-cost carrier as a facilitator in driving up tourist inflows and sector-related revenue by 50% by 2020. As such, Buta Airways (Baku) is expected to launch later this autumn using a fleet of its own Embraer aircraft.
Aliyev's administration also states that it wishes to create a favourable environment for airlines and will ensure the State Civil Aviation Administration (SCAA) increases the number of airlines operating to and from Azerbaijan.
In particular, the increase of direct flights to major cities in Europe has been noted as a priority. The document says that the aim is to go from forty-nine to 100 destinations. According to the ch-aviation capacity module, AZAL currently controls about 50% of the roughly 30,000 weekly seats available in the Azerbaijan-Europe market.
The government is also looking to improve the infrastructure of domestic and international air terminals, including the expansion of Baku International Airport. This may include the construction of new airfields. To that end, Azerbaijan recognises that it may need to improve its air navigation systems and overall aviation safety.
As part of its plan to strengthen its cargo infrastructure, the road map indicates that Azerbaijan will look to expand the capabilities of its air cargo terminals. The document also outlines the government's wish to promote the role of private companies in air, rail and sea, with an eye to liberalisation and an increased share of privately owned airlines in the transport sector as a whole.
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