Azerbaijan news

Why are Zagatala, Lankaran, Gabala international airports not working?

With that – from the occupation free three internationals in the affected areas weather by building the port Azerbaijan international by country weather increases the number of ports to nine.

in Karabakh Fuzuli weather after the port, Zagatala, whose activity was not so noticeable now, was focused on the construction of two more years ago, Gabala and Lankaran international airports.

Although the officials say that the newly built airports are built for the purpose of tourism, local economists believe that the lack of competitive environment and poor tourism infrastructure do not allow a successful result in the issue of airports.

According to independent economists who spoke to the BBC, the fate of the newly built international airports is also uncertain, including Zagatala, which has been inactive for 14 years, and which now has no regular international flights. Gabala and Lankaran can be like international airports.

But according to some commentators, Azerbaijan Caucasus due to still not achieving peace with Armenia military is not stable in terms of and these airports as well military can serve purposes.

4 years ago President Ilham Aliyev “regions 2014-2018in the years socialAt the conference on the implementation of the “economic development state program”, he touched on the benefits of international airports: “Baku, Nakhchivan, GanjaLankaran, Gabala, Zagatala – six international airports, and one Yevlakh the airport was rebuilt. Today they operate and international flights are organized. This conditions the arrival of tourists to our country and gives comfort to people. When we started these projects, some people thought that maybe we were in vain funds we spend, they will have no use. Life has shown that now flights are organized from our international airports to different places of the world”, – Ilham Aliyev he said.

Currently, only from these airports Baku, Ganja and international and domestic flights to Nakhchivan.

There are no international flights from Zagatala at all, and some international flights have taken place at other airports for very few and short periods of time.

For example, according to FlightRadar international flight tracking service, this year April In total, more than 1,400 international flights were made from Azerbaijan, 97 percent of which were made from Baku International Airport.

The share of the remaining seven international airports in total flights was 3 percent, including Zagatala and Fuzuli there were no flights from the airports.

In comparison, April More than 1,100 international flights were made from neighboring Georgia in 2015, and approximately 35 percent of them were carried out by international airports in the region.

AZAL, the manager of the regional airports in Azerbaijan, did not answer BBC’s questions about why the Zagatala, Lankaran and Gabala airports are not working at full capacity, and there are no regular domestic and international flights from them.

According to the information provided to BBC only from Lankaran airport, flights to Moscow have already started twice a week, and there will be flights to St. Petersburg next month.

of FlightRadar April according to the information, two flights were from Lankaran and one from Gabala airport. BBC was told from these airports that they cannot provide information about flights other than international passenger flights.

“Regional airports without potential in Azerbaijan”

Elmir Mukhtarov, an independent researcher on economic issues living in Gakh, recalls that when the Zagatala international airport was built, there was a lot of discussion among the local population about the development of tourism, new jobs, and ease of transportation, but despite the passage of many years, these things did not materialize.

20Although 14 years have passed since the airport was built in 2008, there have been no flights from abroad. Domestic flights are also 2010has been suspended since 10The project, which cost about 0 million manats, was left unused,” said Emil Mukhtarov.

An independent researcher examined the regional airports in Azerbaijan on the example of the Zagatala International Airport and concluded that a proper analysis of the intended commercial and economic utility was not carried out during their construction.

Sheki-Zagatala region does not have the potential to provide an airport for either domestic or foreign tourism. The main domestic flight was to Baku, which was much more expensive than traveling by car, and the time difference was less. If it takes 4 and a half hours to reach Gaq by car, it takes 4.5 hours by plane. [aeroporta və oradan gediş və gözləmə də daxil] It takes 3 and a half hours, and the cost of the ticket and transportation was 85 manats, which was expensive and not convenient for the majority of the population of the region,” said Elmir Mukhtarov.

According to him, the presence of a cheap airport like Kutaisi in Georgia overshadows Zagatala, Gabala, and Ganja airports: “Azerbaijan tourism infrastructure in their regions is not developed enough for a European tourist to stop and come to Zagatala or Gakh.

Mr. Mukhtarov says that currently the restoration of Karabakh is the priority of the government, where “billions funds” is spent, but according to him, here “not many, just one airport” would be enough to meet the need for air transport.

The researcher believes that the location of Fuzuli, Zangilan and Lachin airports, which are not so far from each other, at a distance of about 120 km, calls into question the economic efficiency of the airports.

Flying from Gabala with “Pegasus”.

When the Turkish low-cost airline Pegasus started flying from Gabala in 2016, the 33-year-old Mingachevir resident Sanan Mehdi no longer needed to come to Baku. When he needed, from Gabala to Istanbul, and from there for his master’s degree education to Rome, which he received trip did. Moreover, since the airline is low-budget, the tickets are also affordable for it.

When “Pegasus” flew from Gabala, not only the surrounding regions, but also those living in Ganja and Baku used the Gabala-Istanbul flight.

However, “Pegasus” stopped flights due to lack of customers. Customers like Sanan Mehdi have already started buying flight tickets to Rome from Kutaisi airport in Georgia for 150 manats.

The company told BBC Azerbaijan that there are currently problems with flights to Ganja, “the working hours of the airport are such that passengers flying from there to Istanbul cannot catch all international flights.”

According to Sanan Mehdi, ordinary citizens who often travel abroad are more interested in direct and cheap flights.

“Next month, I will fly to Turkey from Ganja with Pegasus: 122 euros (218 manats) departure, 150 (268 manats) return.” Although it is not very expensive, it is not cheap compared to the price in Gabala.”

“If the airport works, there will be revival in the region”

When Chingiz Karimov, who was 65 years old, was working on the construction of the Gabala International Airport, he hoped that the construction of the airport would bring new and many job opportunities to the region, and their financial situation would improve.

“The airport is working, people are coming and going to work, but there are no flights. 10More than 1,000 people work. True, there is no flight, but there is a flight when official and state representatives come and go. Every time they say that there will be international flights to Moscow, Istanbul, but this remains just a word,” Chingiz Karimov said.

According to him, if the airport were to work at full capacity, it would lead to an increase in the airport’s labor force, and would positively affect the economic situation of the region and revive the service sector.

“Lack of competitive environment”

Nazim Beydamirli, an analyst on economic issues, believes that if there was a competitive environment in management, economy, and politics in Azerbaijan, the regional airports in the country would not remain unused, and in other areas, “Azerbaijan would have gone ahead.”

According to Nazim Beydamirli, the benefit of regional airports only “hit AZAL company, its contractors, those who won these projects”. AZAL has not responded to these accusations.

According to the expert, when these airports were built, it was promised to facilitate the movement of the population of the region to many countries. prices In terms of optimization, the government’s policy is not adequate.

The former deputy says that it is not economically useful or profitable to build many airports in close proximity to each other in Azerbaijan, but he does not rule out that those airports are also military can be used for:

“With Azerbaijan Armenia they still haven’t achieved peace and military conflicts may flare up in the Caucasus. In case of a regional war, these airports can be used.”

“It is important to build an airport in Karabakh”

Landing of the first passenger plane at Fuzuli airport

Member of Parliament Vahid Ahmadov believes that Azerbaijan the airports in the regions “should not be confused with the ones in Karabakh” and they political and economically, “maybe also militarily” are important: “I think it’s more related to the military field. In the construction of such facilities, there may be issues that are not reported to the public.”

According to him, the airports in Karabakh are being built in the tourism region, and it is necessary to build such airports because sanatoriums and recreation areas are planned to be built there.

But the deputy does not agree with the idea that Zagatala, Gabala and Lankaran airports should remain inactive:

It is not true to say that “airports are not working”. It may be that there is not enough traffic, but I have not heard of any airport not working”, – Vahid Ahmadov said.

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