Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (June 15-19)

Azerbaijan Airlines awarded prestigious "4 Star" rating of Skytrax

Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) is proud to inform you that it has received a prestigious "4 Star" rating out of 5 from the leader in air transport research, world-famous British consulting company Skytrax.

AZAL was awarded this status based on the results of independent international audit of Skytrax, which assessed the airline's quality and level of services.

Airlines rating by Skytrax is measured on a scale ranging from 1 star to 5 stars, and is recognized by the aviation community as an unbiased and indisputable criterion in service quality rating.

According to the current rating of "Skytrax", a total of 35 airlines are registered in the rating of "4 Stars". By receiving the "4 Star" rating, AZAL joins other well-known global carriers like Emirates, Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, KLM, British Airways, Japan Airlines and others.

It should be noted that only one "4 Star" carrier has been registered among the countries of Eastern Europe and the CIS until recently.

Before AZAL was awarded with "4 Stars" rating, independent international auditors established the rating of the company, based on more than 800 criteria covering service quality and staff work standards.

Such components, important from the point of passengers, as an airline's website and its contents, convenience of online booking and other services were asserted.

Detailed assessment was also carried out on such issues as the cabin's condition, its design and cleanness, board entertainment, crew uniforms, crew's attitude to the passengers, operating efficiency. Aside from that such issues as duty free service, aircraft log book contents, quality of on-board catering and seat comfort were asserted as well.

At the same time, Azerbaijani national carrier was nominated for the award established by Skytrax agency - the "World Airline Awards" in the global category "World Airline that achieved most progress", taking its place of honor among such global carriers as Air France and Delta Air Lines.

Afghanistan can join BTK railway project, says ambassador

Afghanistan can join the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project through the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, which connects the country with Turkmenistan, the Afghan Ambassador to Azerbaijan Mohammad Taqi Khalili said.

"This route [BTK] is shorter and cheaper for Afghanistan, for exports and imports," said the ambassador, adding that Azerbaijan plays an important role in the project's realization.

He went on to add that the relations between Azerbaijan and Afghanistan develop very fast, noting that the future of his country's relations with Azerbaijan is very promising.

Taqi Khalili said that hopefully Afghanistan and Azerbaijan can make the relations much more productive in the future.

"We are working on this," he said. "Recently we have had many delegations from Afghanistan. For the first time in the history of our relations with Azerbaijan the minister [of economy and industry] Shahin Mustafayev visited Afghanistan."

Commenting on the issue of security of the foreign companies' operations in Afghanistan, the ambassador said the country's government has done its best to provide them with enough security.

"There are many foreign companies in Afghanistan," he said. "Despite all the problems and challenges, my government is doing well on this issue."

Speaking about the progress in the realization of the project for construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the diplomat said the project will be hopefully ready by 2020.

He said everything depends on security situation in the realization of the TAPI.

"The project is going on well, the countries involved are working," said Taqi Khalili.

Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway is being constructed on the basis of the Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement.

The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) finances the project in line with the Azerbaijani president's decree 'On the implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project activities' dated February 21, 2007.

A new 105-kilometer branch of the railroad is being constructed as part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars project. In addition, the railway's Akhalkalaki-Marabda-Tbilisi section is under reconstruction in Georgia, what will increase its capacity to 15 million metric tons of cargo per year. A depot is under construction in Akhalkalaki for the transition of trains from the existing tracks in Georgia to the European ones.

It is planned to complete the project's realization in 2015.
The highest capacity of the corridor will be 17 million metric tons of cargo per year. At the initial stage, this figure will be one million passengers and 6.5 million metric tons of cargo.

TAPI's length is meant to be 1,800 km, of which 200 km will run through Turkmenistan, 773 km through Afghanistan, 827 km through Pakistan.

The pipeline is designed to meet the gas needs of the industries in the countries with a population of over 1.5 billion people.

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