Azerbaijan Airlines Is Cancelling Their Only US Route

Azerbaijan Airlines is canceling their only route to the United States. From September 30th, 2019, Azerbaijan Airlines will no longer fly between Baku and New York’s JFK Airport. This represents the loss of the only nonstop service between the United States and Azerbaijan.

Azal 787
Azerbaijan Airlines is canceling their only route to the United States. Photo: Azerbaijan Airlines

Azerbaijan Airlines

More commonly referred to as AZAL, Azerbaijan Airlines is the flag carrier of Azerbaijan. Their hub is located in the country’s capital of Baku. From there, they operate flights across Europe, East Asia, and South Asia.

Their only route to North America is between Baku and New York. One Mile At A Time reports that Azerbaijan Airlines is canceling their Baku to New York route from September 30, 2019. This isn’t terribly surprising given that the route is a bit odd.

Azal 787
Azerbaijan Airlines flew 787s between New York and Baku. Photo: Boeing

The route

Azerbaijan Airlines probably was not making a lot of money flying between New York and Baku. On one hand, Azerbaijan is not a large tourist or business market so there is not a lot of origin and destination demand between the two pairs. In fact, the route only operates two days a week.

In addition, Azerbaijan Airlines doesn’t have a market for connections. Most places they fly to from Baku are easily reachable from New York either on nonstops or one-stops via other major carriers. Most people probably don’t want to fly from New York to Europe via Baku.

Heydar_Aliyev_International_Airport,_Baku
Azerbaijan Airlines doesn’t offer competitive connections from their hub at Heydar Aliyev Airport in Baku. Photo: Wikimedia

The route, however, likely carried a prestige factor. Airlines fly some routes simply out of image or political motivation. Much like Kenya Airways‘ flight to New York, it doesn’t seem like Azerbaijan viewed this route as a huge money-maker. Instead, it is likely that Azerbaijan Airlines flew between the two city pairs in an attempt to boost tourism or support business links between the United States and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan Airlines’ 787s

Currently, Azerbaijan Airlines operates two 787-8 aircraft. In 2017, Azerbaijan Airlines ordered five additional 787-8 aircraft. These are lightly loaded with only 210 passengers. These include 18 forward-facing business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Video of the day:

Azal J
Azerbaijan Airlines business class. Photo: Azerbaijan Airlines

In addition, there are 35 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Azerbaijan Airlines Premium Economy
Azerbaijan Airlines Premium Economy. Photo: Azerbaijan Airlines

Finally, economy class is in a standard 3-3-3 configuration. There are a total of 157 economy seats on Azerbaijan Airlines’ 787s.

Azal economy
Azerbaijan Airlines economy class on a 787. Photo: Azerbaijan Airlines

Ultimately, Azerbaijan Airlines couldn’t fill their planes enough to turn a profit. Moreover, Azerbaijan Airlines lacks an American partner, so passengers couldn’t easily connect in New York.

Overall

Azerbaijan Airlines will no longer be flying to the United States as of September 2019. This is probably a smart decision as they likely are unable to turn a major profit on a route like this. With only twice-weekly service and a lack of connections, Azerbaijan Airlines could probably serve another more profitable route with 787 aircraft. It will be interesting to see if Azerbaijan Airlines can make a return to the United States one day. However, it could be a while before their beautiful livery returns to the United States.

Azal tail fins
Azerbaijan Airlines does sport a beautiful livery. Photo: Azerbaijan Airlines

Have you flown Azerbaijan Airlines? Are you going to fly Azerbaijan Airlines from New York? Let us know in the comments!

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Central Asian Tourist

There are three major airlines in Central Asia: Air Astana, AZAL, and Uzbekistan Airways. Now, only Uzbekistan has non-stop flights to the US on B787. I think this route is actually profitable because the company has a larger network in Central Asia. Air Astana also wants to open non-stop service to the US when it receives Dreamliners in 2023 (the company was supposed to open the route in 2017 but keeps postponing its B787 orders). The company has a good experience partnering with major airlines: codeshare flight with Lufthansa to FRA, or Air France to CDG. So it will most… Read more »

Vafa Malikova

It was a great service while it lasted. It was an easy way for me to get to Baku to visit my family. I’m sorry to see it go.