Low-cost airline Uzbekistan Express takes wing

Low-cost airline Uzbekistan Express takes wing
Uzbekistan Express is Central Asia's third budget airline. / www.uzairways.com/en/uzbekistan-express
By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent September 5, 2021

Low-cost airline Uzbekistan Express has carried out its first flight.

An Airbus A320ceo flown from Tashkent touched down at Moscow Domodedovo Airport on August 30 as Uzbekistan Airways’ advanced its plan to transition into a “hybrid model” carrier by offering budget flights laid on by Uzbekistan Express.

As things stand, Uzbekistan Express operates two Airbus A320ceos, reconfigured with single economy-class cabins for 174 passengers. In Uzbekistan Airways’ standard configurations these aircraft are equipped with 12 business class and 138 economy seats. Two more aircraft will have their cabins reconfigured in the coming months, the parent airline said.

Uzbekistan Express will particularly focus on domestic routes, but will also operate a number of routes to Russia and Kazakhstan (Aktau and Aktobe).

“All flights are part of Uzbekistan Airways’ existing route network but will be offered at 20% discount compared to the parent airline’s standard rates. The reduction is possible due to increased aircraft capacity,” Uzbekistan Airways said.

Uzbekistan Express will face competition not only from foreign operators but from the recently launched private Uzbek carrier Qanot Sharq. It also operates two А320ceos.

Simpleflying.com posed some questions, asking:  "Will it [Uzbekistan Express] be willing or given the freedom to have meaningfully lower labor costs and higher labor productivity? Much greater aircraft productivity? Much lower ticket distribution costs? A real focus on unbundling? And many more things. This remains unclear."

Uzbekistan Express is Central Asia’s third budget airline after Kyrgyzstan’s Air Manas and Kazakistan’s FlyArystan,

In the non-coronavirus-hit year of 2019, over 1.3mn passengers flew between Uzbekistan and Russia, booking data shows.