Azerbaijan has changed its airline policies relating to foreign carriers, announcing that granted fifth and seventh freedom rights to all airlines from a list of 40 different countries, effective from the 1st of January.
These rights, extended to countries from North America, Asia and Europe, are intended to 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.
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.
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.
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.”
Further incentives for foreign carriers include a 100% discount on airport services for new airlines that open a route to Azerbaijan 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.