By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan and Pakistan plan to launch direct flights to increase the tourist flow in both directions.
The opening of a direct flight between the two countries is expected in the near future, said Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Federal Minister for Aviation of Pakistan, at the meeting with Azerbaijani Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Alizade.
During the meeting, both parties agreed to develop strong relations in the field of aviation. It was noted that there has been an increase in the number of Pakistanis going to Azerbaijan for business and leisure in recent years.
“Azerbaijan and Pakistan are fraternal countries. Relations between the two countries are warm and based on trust and mutual respect,” said the Pakistani Minister.
Alizade, in turn, noted that Azerbaijan is interested in strengthening ties with Pakistan.
Azerbaijan-Pakistan relations are considered to be of "strategic partners" nature. The strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Pakistan has contributed to the cooperation in economic, trade, military-technical, energy, tourism and other spheres.
Currently, there is no direct air service between the countries. The Turkish Airlines was allowed to operate flights from Istanbul to Lahore/Islamabad through Baku in order to establish air link between Azerbaijan and Pakistan.
In 1993, Azerbaijan and Pakistan signed Draft Air Services Agreement (ASA). In addition, a memorandum of understanding was signed between two countries in 2009. According to the document, Pakistan could operate 7 weekly flights with a limit of 1,500 seats per week in each direction.
Azerbaijan and Pakistan enjoy great potential in tourism cooperation. The promotion of tourism potential of Azerbaijan, simplification of visa regime for Pakistani citizens and the launch of the ASAN Visa system increased the number of Pakistani tourists visiting Azerbaijan. Thus, in 2018, 22,000 tourists from Pakistan visited Azerbaijan. In addition, it is expected that their number will increase to 32,000 by September.
As many as 17,558 Pakistani tourists came in Azerbaijan in 2017, 3,998 in 2016, 2193 in 2015, and 1,817 tourists in 2014. The number of Pakistani tourists visiting Azerbaijan has increased by more than eight times over the past two years.
After the establishment of direct flights between the two countries, it is expected that the number of tourists will grow significantly.
Today, about 300 companies and entrepreneurs from Pakistan operate in Azerbaijan. The trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $11 million in 2018.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz