By Aynur Karimova
Azerbaijan, the South Caucasus's most developed economy, is keen on developing civil aviation. Being a natural catalyst for the economic growth and development of Azerbaijan, civil aviation enjoys significant opportunities for attracting investments.
Today, thanks to Azerbaijan's favorable geographical location, which creates good opportunities in terms of the establishment of the regional transport infrastructure and logistics, the further development of civil aviation is an important part of the country's economic strategy.
In this regard, the government has taken decisive steps to develop civil aviation in Azerbaijan. For more than a decade, Azerbaijan has had one of the world’s best performing economies. Today, Azerbaijan is turning into a major air hub between Europe and Asia for four reasons: geography, weather, culture, and continuous investments by the government.
As Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at a meeting with the President of the International Civil Aviation Organization Council, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, and Chairperson of the Interstate Aviation Committee Tatiana Anodina, large investments are being made in infrastructure projects, several airports have been built, the Heydar Aliyev International Airport has been completely reconstructed and a number of new planes have been purchased by Azerbaijan recently.
Azerbaijan, as an important member of the ICAO, has recently hosted the 35th session of the Interstate Council on Aviation and Airspace. The ICAO Council President, who attended the event, praised the work carried out by the Azerbaijani government in the aviation sector.
This year saw the 105th year since the first flight over Baku. The rapid development of civil aviation started in Azerbaijan since the French biplane Farman-4, piloted by Sergey Utochkin, made a few circles above awestruck onlookers and landed with a thunder of applause.
Over the last 10 years, around $15 billion has been invested in developing the transport sector in Azerbaijan, Abid Sharifov, the country’s deputy prime minister said on October 23. Part of these investments was spent on the development of civil aviation in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has become party to 23 basis documents on international civil aviation, which facilitates cooperation with other countries and international organizations and increases safety and the comfort level of passenger and cargo transportation.
AZAL – a mirror of civil aviation
Azerbaijan Airlines, a mirror of the civil aviation in the Land of Fire, plays a crucial role in the country's socio-economic development, in particular in the development of tourism and business. As President Aliyev said, AZAL is one of the most successful companies in the world, and the Heydar Aliyev International Airport was among the world's 10 four-star airports.
AZAL, a major air carrier and one of the leaders of the aviation community of CIS countries, is taking advantage of government support and is now one of the major companies not only in the region but also across the globe.
The number of its flights is increasing. More than 16,000 scheduled international flights depart Azerbaijan annually, destined for over 38 cities all over the world. More than 1,300 flights are available to passengers annually, destined for local airports.
Today, AZAL's top priority is safety and this issue stands in the cornerstone of Azerbaijan’s cooperation with IATA and ICAO.
As a condition of IATA membership, airlines must successfully meet the 900+ standards that form the IATA Operational Safety Audit. AZAL, as an IATA member since 1997 has completed the audit and has proudly held a place on the IOSA registry since 2008.
AZAL does not have a single old plane. In other words, there are no higher standards, as AZAL’s fleet today in the region consists of Airbus, Boeing, including recently purchased Dreamliners, and Embracer aircrafts.
During the Baku-2015 First European Games, AZAL was able to ensure a high level of service to guests and athletes who arrived in the country.
In June during the First European Games in Baku, passenger traffic at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport stood at 280,405 people, of which 228,182 was from international flights and 52,223 from domestic flights.
Thanks to its organized operations, AZAL received a prestigious "4 Stars" from the leader in air transport research, the world-famous international rating agency Skytrax in June 2015.
The successful development of AZAL has a positive impact on the overall development of the country, since people coming to Azerbaijan, Baku and other cities use AZAL, and the service they receive creates an impression of the country from the first minute.
The number of countries and companies willing to cooperate with Azerbaijan in the civil aviation field is therefore growing with the increasing prestige of the country in this sector. This means that Azerbaijan will establish a large number of new flights to different countries in the future. If so, it will be followed by an increase of investments into the aviation sector and turning Baku into a major aviation hub.
Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova
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