Air Service Agreement to be signed tomorrowThe Azerbaijani national carrier, AZAL Airlines, is a step closer to commencing services to Belgrade. Several months ago it was reported that the airline of this oil rich Caucus state was interested in commencing flights to Zurich via Belgrade from its hub in Baku in cooperation with Jat Airways. Tomorrow, the President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliev, as well as the country’s Prime Minister and the representative of the Azerbaijani Parliament will visit Belgrade on a 2 day official state visit. Over 20 bilateral agreements will be signed, one of which is an Air Service Agreement, opening the doors for AZAL to commence flights to the Serbian capital. The airline plans to fly from Baku to Zurich via Belgrade so as to make the service more viable. The airline would be granted fifth freedom rights, allowing passengers to book tickets on the Belgrade – Zurich – Belgrade sector as well. It is believed that Jat could play a minor role by code sharing on this service. The flights were initially proposed by the Serbian – Azeri Chamber of Commerce as the two governments look to substantially increase economic cooperation and joint projects. A bilateral tourism agreement will also be inked during the state visit, which intends to increase tourist traffic between the two countries. The flights are proposed to commence during the 2011/2012 winter season, which begins in late October and ends at the end of March.
AZAL Airlines is looking to rapidly expand over the next few years. Just a few days ago the airline received a brand new Boeing 767-300ER jet and another 3 are set to arrive by next year. The airline also has aspirations to begin flights to the United States and will become the first former Soviet state to operate the Boeing 787 Dremaliner in 2014. AZAL is also expanding its European destination network, introducing flights to Kiev and Amsterdam this summer. A new multi million Euro terminal is currently under construction at Baku’s Heydar Aliev Airport. The country is anticipating a massive increase in tourism next May when it hosts the world’s biggest television event – the Eurovision Song Contest.