Azerbaijan To Allow Fifth Freedom Flights

Azerbaijan has announced a significant change to its foreign airline policies. As of 1st January, the country has granted fifth and seventh freedom rights to all airlines from a list of 40 different countries.

4K-AI01 B763(ER) AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines (Government) VKO UUWW 1
Azerbaijan will be opening its skies to the world. Photo: Papas Dos via Flickr

The start of a new decade is the perfect time to make positive changes as we look towards the future. If you have some special new year’s resolutions for the new decade, you’re certainly not the only one. Azerbaijan has welcomed the 2020s with a gift to foreign airlines.

As of 1st January, all airlines based in a list of 40 different countries from North America, Asia and Europe, will automatically receive fifth and seventh freedom rights in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan hopes this significant change to its current aviation policy will help encourage tourism and visitors to the country.

With fifth freedom rights, foreign carriers will now be able to stop over in Azerbaijan en route to destinations in other countries. Meanwhile, seventh freedom rights will allow foreign carriers to fly between two foreign countries with a stop in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s old policy

Prior to 1st January 2020, Azerbaijan had much more restrictive policies to deal with rights for foreign airlines. The country’s civil aviation authority used to grant rights to foreign airlines on an individual basis.

Airbus A320 Azerbaijan Airlines - AZAL
Airlines from 40 different countries will now automatically get fifth and seventh freedom rights in Azerbaijan. Photo: Papas Dos via Flickr

Now, fifth and seventh freedom rights will be extended to all airlines based in any of the 40 countries covered by the new agreement. Not only will they automatically be allowed to operate flights to Baku, but they will also be able to fly to any of the country’s airports.

Although 40 countries are covered under the new policy, the UK is a notable exception, perhaps due to the uncertainty surrounding the eventualities of Brexit.

What is Azerbaijan hoping to gain from the new policy?

Freedom is one of the most important ingredients for fostering economic activity, and it looks like Azerbaijan has realized it’s important for aviation too.

In a statement, president of AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines, Jahangir Asgarov, said that the new policy has been implemented to help “increase the country’s transport accessibility in the foreign market, as well as to realize the country’s tourism potential and provide competitive offers for passengers.”

As reported by CH-Aviation, Azerbaijan has also introduced some new incentives to encourage foreign carriers to fly to the country.

AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines, 4K-AZ11, Boeing 757-22L
Azerbaijan is hoping to attract more tourism. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

New airlines that open a route to Azerbaijan will enjoy a 100% discount on airport services during the first year of operation. In the second, third and fourth years of operation the discount will be 70%, 50% and 30% respectively.

The share of air traffic in Azerbaijan is heavily weighted towards the capital, Baku. Currently, Baku makes up 94% of the country’s capacity, followed by Gyandzha with just 4%.

Now that foreign carriers will be able to land with fifth and seventh freedom rights throughout Azerbaijan, the country’s smaller airports may well start to see a greater share of overall air traffic.