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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition, there are 35 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration.
Finally, economy class is in a standard 3-3-3 configuration. There are a total of 157 economy seats on Azerbaijan Airlines’ 787s.
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.
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.
Have you flown Azerbaijan Airlines? Are you going to fly Azerbaijan Airlines from New York? Let us know in the comments!