Azerbaijan's flag carrier, Azerbaijan Airlines (Azal), is planning to set up a free economic zone at the international airport in Baku that serves as its base and to purchase four Boeing 787 aircraft before the end of the year, its CEO Jahangir Asgarov told Emerging Europe in an interview published on October 12.
Azerbaijan has long sought to boost its civil aviation sector and has managed to attract an increasing number of foreign tourists in recent years by marketing the country through large-scale sporting events and by partnering up with foreign tourism agencies. However, the country receives nowhere near the number of tourists that its smaller neighbour Georgia does, and the majority of the tourist offering is in the capital city of Baku.
Attempts to develop adventure and cultural tourism outside of Baku have secured modest results because the infrastructure in rural areas remains poor and the number of activities tourists can engage in is limited.
Azal has nevertheless expanded its fleet - it signed two agreements with Boeing and Airbus in 2016 - as well as its number of routes and, starting from next year, it will launch a fully-fledged low-cost brand.
The airline accounts for almost half of traffic at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, which saw 3.1mn passengers in the first half of 2017. According to Asgarov, the traffic volume at the airport was double the amount recorded in 2016.
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