AZAL negotiates on Moscow-Gabala flights opening

AZAL negotiates on Moscow-Gabala flights opening

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 10 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/

The "Azerbaijan Airlines" negotiates with with Russian partners on the issues of opening new flights from Moscow to Azerbaijan's Gabala city, the company's head Jahangir Askerov told in an interview with The business year journal.

"AZAL has been already negotiating with its partners in Russia to open regular flights from Moscow to Gabala," he said.

The Gabala International Airport was opened on November 18. 2011, and it is the gateway to one of the most popular destinations of Azerbaijan, Askerov believes.

"In the future, interest in passenger traffic to Gabala will definitely grow," he believes.

Askerov mentioned that AZAL recently experienced a significant increase in passenger traffic - while it transported 989,096 passengers in 2010, the number of passengers using AZAL's services increased to 1,352,871 in 2011, which corresponds to almost 37 percent growth.

The summer vacation season and major holidays such as the New Year and Novruz traditionally constitute the peak periods, he added.

"About 4,944 tons of mail and cargo were also transported via passenger flights, which surpassed the 2011 figures by 12.5 percent," Askerov said.

He mentioned that the company expects growth in passenger traffic, not only exclusive to Eurovision, but in the period leading up to the event and this is due to the growing interest in Azerbaijan as a tourist destination.

The modernization of the existing Airport complex at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport will be fully completed before our first Eurovision guests arrive, Askerov added.

"I would especially like to emphasize that the industry is prepared to host this large number of tourists [for the Eurovision Song Contest]. In Baku, famous global brands have opened hotels, the infrastructure has been modernized completely and unique tourists programs have been recently developed," the company's head said.

Online ticket sales for AZAL flights were launched in 2008, the company has enjoyed a stable increase in online sales, Askerov mentioned.

"In 2010, revenue from online ticket sales amounted to about €960,000, while in 2011, that figure grew to €1.72 million, which corresponds to an increase of almost 80 percent", he stressed.

AZAL expects to expand fleet as it expects to receive one more Boeing 767 aircraft in May 2012, furthermore, the company hopes to receive two next-generation aircrafts from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner series in 2014, Askerov said.

He added that along with the growth of the fleet, the company's route map will also expand because in early 2014, it have plans to open regular flights to the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

AZAL also pays special attention to the training of qualified personnel, the company's head said.

"Our activity meets worldwide standards and this center will provide training for our air crew and in the near future, we plan to introduce manual training simulations for helicopters," Askerov added.

He said that this center is unique in the region and AZAL Training will provide education for pilots from across the Caucasus and Central Asia.

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