Azerbaijan Airlines Isn’t Cutting New York Route After All

Azerbaijan Airlines, the nation’s flag-carrying airline, have reconsidered their plans to cancel their route from Baku in Azerbaijan to New York JFK. It was previously thought that the service would cease at the end of September 2019. Now, it has been confirmed to be on the schedule until at least autumn of 2020.

AZAL 787
AZAL will continue the 787 service to JFK. Photo: AZAL

Although it was previously rumored that Azerbaijan Airlines would cancel their Baku to New York service, those allegations have been well and truly put to bed as the airline confirms plans to continue the service into 2020 at least.

Not canceling JKF

Azerbaijan Airlines, affectionately known as AZAL, have had a change of heart over their cancellation of their Baku to JFK services. In an announcement on the carrier’s official Facebook page, it said,

“As a result of the optimization of the fleet’s technical capabilities and in accordance with the numerous wishes of passengers, Azerbaijan Airlines decided not to suspend flights from Baku to New York for another year.

“Thus, direct flights from Baku to New York will be continued within the framework of the winter schedule of the national air carrier of Azerbaijan.

“Baku-New York flights to JFK airport will be continued within the framework of both the winter schedule for 2019/2020 and the summer schedule for 2020. The flights will be performed twice a week (Monday and Saturday) on comfortable Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.”

The announcement was reiterated on their Twitter feed too:

The Baku – JFK route was launched in 2015, but was speculated to be closing this autumn as no flights could be booked from September 30th onwards. Reservations were reopened on Wednesday, with a promise from the carrier to continue their schedule at least until fall of 2020.

Why the change of heart?

State-run Azerbaijan Airlines is the nation’s largest airline. Despite only operating a fleet of 35 commercial aircraft, a handful of which are VIP jets, they provide a vital link to the Azerbaijani people, both to get out of the country and to facilitate tourism inwards too.

From their hub in Baku, they fly to a number of eastern European destinations, including the Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey. They have a number of connections in Russia, and some western European and Middle Eastern links too. However, JFK is the one and only link between Azerbaijan and the US operated by the carrier.

AZAL first 787
AZAL’s first 787 arrived in 2014. Photo: AZAL

Since the carrier took delivery of two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners in 2014, it has been operating flights to London and Dubai with one (VP-BBS) and to London, Bodrum, Istanbul and New York with the other (VP-BBR). In 2017, the carrier ordered a further five 787-8s from Boeing, although it’s not known when they will start taking delivery of these.

It was thought that the cessation of the JFK service was due to a lack of profitability on the route. However, with AZAL being the only airline aside of Aeroflot to offer connections between the US and the Caspian region, passenger demand and feedback seems to have convinced the airline to continue their services for the time being.

Azerbaijan Airlines 787
We’ll continue to see that stunning Azerbaijan Airlines livery in New York. Photo: AZAL

Launching flights to Delhi

As well as maintaining services to the US, Azerbaijan Airlines have undertaken route expansion elsewhere too. From the 26th June, the airline has begun a route from Baku to New Delhi in India. At the time, Jamil Manizade, Director of AZAL, told TravelTrends that,

 “India ranks very high in our list of priorities. It offers immense potential due to the high number of international travelers and their growing interest in the region. With the launch of the direct route between Baku and New Delhi, we are confident that it would boost the flow of tourists to Azerbaijan.”

We look forward to seeing that stunning AZAL livery continuing to make a twice-weekly appearance at JFK, and to see where the carrier’s new Dreamliners take them when they begin to be delivered.