By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan's business relations with Astrakhan, Russia's strategic city on the Caspian Sea, have been rapidly developing in recent years. The opening of direct flights between Baku and Astrakhan will facilitate the further development of these relations.
The low-cost airline Buta Airways (a division of Azerbaijan Airlines) launched direct flights from Baku to Astrakhan on May 16.
Azerbaijani delegation of the Presidential Administration headed by the Azerbaijani President`s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov was among the guests who arrived on the first airliner from Baku to Astrakhan. As many as 92 passengers arrived in the city.
The restoration of Astrakhan-Baku air links is important for the development of tourism, socio-economic and cultural relations not only between Astrakhan region and Azerbaijan, but also for the entire Caspian region, Hasanov said during the meeting with the acting Governor of the Astrakhan Region Sergey Morozov.
He added that the opening of the Astrakhan Business Center is planned in Baku in the autumn of 2019.
The new center is aimed at increasing supply of Russian goods to the Azerbaijani market. At present, shipbuilding products, fish and flour-grinding products are supplied to the Azerbaijani market from Astrakhan.
“We have big plans for cooperation with Azerbaijan and the restoration of direct flights is another step towards our plans,” noted Morozov. "I am confident that this will strengthen our relationship, will be an impetus for the expansion of our capabilities both in the economy and in culture and other areas."
It should be noted that the direct flights between Baku and Astrakhan have been restored after a four-year break.
The minimum fare for Baku-Astrakhan flight, like for other destinations of the airline, is 29 euros (one way). Flights are carried out twice a week – on Mondays and Thursdays.
Air tickets can be purchased on the official website of the Airline (on "Budget" and "Standard" fares), as well as at sales offices (on "Super" fare).
Online check-in on the website opens 24 hours before departure and closes 2 hours before departure. It is free for all fares.
The unique geographical location of the Astrakhan region in the Volga River delta, the diversity of its landscapes and the richness of nature attracts over two million tourists to the region every year.
Astrakhan is often called the “Volga Venice” - it is located on dozens of islands, and all parts of the city are connected by a network of bridges and canals. Cruise tourism in the Astrakhan region is one of the most promising types of tourism.
At present, the project of a cruise between the Caspian countries, that will boost tourism and transit potential of the littoral states, is at the development stage. Approximate commissioning of the liner is scheduled for next year. At the first stage, trips will be organized on the Astrakhan-Baku route, and, then, the route will be further expanded until 2020.
As relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are of strategic nature, the Astrakhan region plays a special role in the development of these relations. Documents covering socio-economic, trade, scientific-technical and humanitarian spheres have been signed between Azerbaijan and Astrakhan region over the past decade.
The Azerbaijani investors became the first foreign businessmen in Astrakhan’s Lotos special economic zone in 2017. Azerbaijan’s ATEF Group of Companies launched the construction of a plant for the production of electrical equipment in the special economic zone. The construction of an electrical equipment plant with $18 million in investment is currently underway.
The opening of the Business Center of Azerbaijan, built on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, took place in the Russian city of Astrakhan in 2018 to introduce Made in Azerbaijan brand abroad. The interested Russian companies have opportunity to conclude long-term contracts with specific suppliers from Azerbaijan.
According to statistics, at the beginning of 2018, as many as 56 enterprises with Azerbaijani capital were represented in the Astrakhan region, which is about 12 percent of the total number of foreign enterprises operating in the region. Mainly companies specializing in the manufacture of shipbuilding products, supplies of metal products, building materials and packaging containers, and food products enter the Azerbaijani market from the Astrakhan region.
The main share in the structure of imports from Azerbaijan to the Astrakhan region in 2017 and early 2018 was occupied by pipes for drilling, which are supplied to the Russian company Rosneft.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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