By Nigar Orujova
A new air terminal complex opened at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport on April 23.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva, and their family members attended the opening ceremony.
President Aliyev cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the complex.
President of Azerbaijan Airlines Jahangir Asgarov informed the Head of State on the work done in the air terminal complex, after which President Aliyev addressed the event.
The Head of State said the development of air transport is one of Azerbaijan's priorities.
"Major investment has been made in the development of air transport in recent years. The growth of our state budget allows us to allocate additional funds to this area," he said.
This airport will serve 6 million passengers a year. The old airport building was constructed 15 years ago, and can take another 3 million passengers after its recent overhaul. Thus, 9 million passengers can use the Baku airport every year, the president noted.
"New airports have been built in other cities of our country. Seven airports have been built in the past 10 years. Five of them have international status. Airports have been built and commissioned in Baku, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Lankaran, Gabala, Zagatala and Yevlakh. These airports arrange flights to foreign countries and the number of their flights is increasing. At the same time, domestic flights are also growing," he said.
President Aliyev further said the government is continuing its policy towards purchasing new aircrafts, adding that AZAL does not have a single old plane and all the planes are new, meeting the highest standards.
"We have about 25 aircrafts today, and the process is still underway. We plan to purchase new large aircraft in the near future. This airport can accommodate and provide the necessary ground handling services for the world's largest aircraft -Airbus A380. Thus, the Heydar Aliyev International Airport is one of the best airports in the world both in terms of its beauty, design and comfort, and also in terms of the level of the provided services," he said.
The president noted that AZAL is one of the distinguished airlines in the world, and in the foreground of safety and quality.
"Azerbaijan is developing, and the number of visitors to our country is always on the rise. Therefore, the development of air transport will continue to be a priority," he said.
President Aliyev noted that the volume of cargo traffic in Azerbaijan is also increasing.
"We are trying to turn Baku into a transport and logistical center, and I believe that we have already achieved that. With this aim in mind, Azerbaijan is successfully developing its cargo aviation. New aircrafts are purchased. A cargo terminal has been operational for many years. In other words, we should make the most of our geographical location to turn Azerbaijan and the whole region into a transport hub. This work is progressing well. It elevates the value of our country and also strengthens our economic potential," he said.
The president highlighted that along with the policies carried out in other areas in recent years, the development of the transport sector has also been a priority.
"Transport and infrastructure are the first and foremost factors contributing to economic development. In some cases, it may be considered that the funds invested in road, air and sea transport will not be paid off any time soon. This is true. But, the opportunities being created, tourist zones, economic development, ease of long-distance communication, growth of freight, development of our transit potential - all of these factors strengthen us from political and economic points of view. Therefore, investment in the transport sector is fully justified," he said.
The transport sector in Azerbaijan is becoming a leading sector of the economy, President Aliyev concluded.
Addressing the event, Asgarov thanked the President for his attention to modernizing the air transportation system in the country, and presented the first symbolic passenger tickets to the Head of State and his spouse.
Other speakers at the event included Project Manager for the construction of the complex Martin Burns and deputy director of the State Civil Aviation Administration of Azerbaijan Hajiagha Aliyev.
President Aliyev toured the new air terminal complex.
The first passengers of the new air terminal complex at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport - President Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva - headed to Prague, the Czech Republic, on April 23.
The new airport terminal, covering an area of 65,000 square meters, has a grand four-storey terminal building in the shape of aircraft wings.
The building stands out because of its interesting architectural design. The first floor is designed for check-ins for departing flights and a baggage-claim area for new arrivals. High-level service will be provided to "business class" passengers there.
The second floor of the airport terminal is envisaged for the arriving passengers. There are border checkpoints, visa kiosks, a service for controlling the security of transit passengers, and a recreation lounge for arriving passengers.
The third floor, meant for departing passengers, will carry out customs and border control procedures, as well as passenger security checks by advanced technologies. This floor also accommodates duty-free shops and various cafés.
The fourth floor of the terminal building houses a bar and café for "business class" passengers and meeting rooms fitted with communication equipment. All floors are equipped with electronic boards.
The new terminal building will provide top-quality service to passengers. The building operates aerobridges capable of receiving 12 aircraft at a time. Two aerobridges are intended for accommodating the world's largest passenger aircraft - two-tier Airbus A380. Security measures are implemented in accordance with the latest standards.
As a result of an audit conducted by some international organizations in the sphere of aviation security in the country, Azerbaijan has received the "first class" status.
The Heydar Aliyev International Airport operates flights to 33 airports in 15 countries around the world. Work on organizing direct long-haul flights, including those to the United States, is drawing to a close.
Inside the country, regular flights are operated to Nakhchivan, Ganja and Gabala, and charter flights to Zagatala and Lankaran.
The number of passengers transported from the Heydar Aliyev International Airport to different destinations and back in 2013 was 2,857,000.
The first air terminal for passenger transportation in Azerbaijan was built in 1933.
An air terminal that meets international standards was built and put into operation at the initiative of national leader Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan in 1999.
After just a few years, runways and taxiways were reconstructed at Baku airport, flight control systems were modernized, radio navigation and meteorological equipment were updated, and other measures were taken.
Azerbaijan's civil aviation has entered a new intensive stage in its development. Nakhchivan International Airport, which meets international standards, was put into operation in 2004.
As part of the state program for the socio-economic development of regions, airports were built in Ganja, Zaqatala, and Lankaran in 2006-2008.
Later on, airports were also built in Gabala and Yevlakh.
In an effort to bring passenger and cargo transportation into line with modern requirements, Azerbaijan has also completely revamped its fleet of planes and helicopters; the aircraft fleet of the national flag carrier "Azerbaijan Airlines" (AZAL) has been supplemented with new modern liners purchased from the world's leading manufacturers.