By Rasana Gasimova
Azerbaijan and Pakistan might open direct flights in Summer 2020, said Florian Sengstschmid, the Executive Director of Azerbaijan Tourism Board, Pakistani media reports.
According to Sengstschmid, negotiations are underway between Azerbaijan Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines.
"As soon as direct flights start, the Tourism Board intends to sign a cooperation agreement with Pakistan’s tourism authority to promote the industry," he added.
The flights will be carried out between Baku and the cities of Karachi and Lahore.
In 2018, 41,268 Pakistani tourists arrived to Azerbaijan, while 33,000 Pakistani tourists visited the country in January-September 2019. This is an 11.8 percent increase.
Currently, Azerbaijan Tourism Board is taking part in the Pakistan Travel Mart held in Karachi.
The Board provides visitors with detailed information about Azerbaijan’s tourism potential, tourist routes, hotels, national cuisine and so on.
Within the exhibition, B2B (Business-to-Business) meetings were held with Pakistani tourism companies, and mutual exchange of views on bilateral cooperation was carried out.
The Pakistan Travel Mart (PTM) is a travel and tourism expo that connects all stakeholders of mobility in Pakistan including travel, tourism and hospitality. PTM is a platform to promote inbound, outbound and domestic travel.
2019 edition of Pakistan Travel Mart was held at Karachi Expo Center, Karachi on October 8-10.
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 seven 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.
As many as 17,558 Pakistani tourists visited Azerbaijan in 2017, 3,998 in 2016, 2193 in 2015, and 1,817 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, number of tourists are expected to grow significantly.
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