AZAL plans a substantial fleet expansion with B777s, B787s and A320neos

AZAL Azerbaijan’s flag carrier is to open a number of new routes to major cities in Europe and Asia from its Baku Airport hub (AZAL)

Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) has announced an ambitious plan for a prodigious fleet expansion to satisfy the airline’s upcoming major network expansion. In an official statement issued today, Azerbaijan’s national carrier states its intention to acquire “more than 20 new-generation aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.” An agreement with Boeing for two B777s has already been signed, and these wide-body aircraft, which are a new type for AZAL, are expected to join the fleet in 2021 and 2022 to operate the airline’s planned new long-haul routes.

According to its strategic development plan up to 2025, Azerbaijan’s national carrier intends to open a number of new routes to major cities in Europe and Asia, including Delhi (India), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Vienna (Austria), Rome (Italy), Muscat (Oman) and Dushanbe (Tajikistan) from its Baku Heydar Aliyev Airport hub. “We are planning to further develop our relationship with Boeing and we are considering the acquisition of eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners and three additional Boeing 777s,” AZAL’s president Jahangir Askerov has revealed, adding that this would “help expand our flight geography to long-haul destinations.”

The preliminary agreements, which were reached at the recent 2019 Dubai Air Show, will move a step further at the next round of negotiations during the coming visit of Askerov to Seattle. AZAL currently operates two Boeing 787s and already has an order for five more of the type signed in November 2017.

According to today’s statement, negotiations are also underway with Airbus for the delivery of 10 Airbus A320neos. In Dubai the airline also reportedly expressed potential interest in the smaller A220.

AZAL is considering both operational and financial leasing as the main financing mechanisms for its fleet expansion plans, the company said.

At the Dubai Air Show AZAL also inked an agreement with FlightSafety International to purchase a full-flight simulator for the Embraer E190-E1 regional jets that are operated by Buta Airways, AZAL’s low-cost subsidiary.

Currently, Azerbaijan Airlines’ fleet consists of 18 passenger aircraft of six types, including four Airbus A319s, six A320s, two Boeing 757-200s, two Boeing 767-300s, two Airbus A340-500s and two Boeing 787-8s. In addition, the carrier operates three VIP-configured A320-200, B767-300 and A340-600 aircraft. Eight Embraer 190 jets are operated by Buta Airways, AZAL’s fully-owned low-cost subsidiary.

This year the airline had originally planned to start gradually introducing 10 newly ordered Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft. However, due to the global grounding of the MAX programme, the Azeri airline decided to postpone their deliveries for five years.

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