Azerbaijan’s national carrier Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) inked a deal with the U.S. aerospace giant Boeing Corporation on Sunday at the Dubai Airshow 2017, the largest international aerospace exhibition, to upgrade its fleet with five Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jets and two Boeing 747-8F aircraft.
"The decision to place an order for additional 787 Dreamliner aircrafts will significantly expand the capabilities of our airline. The purchase of new aircrafts will help us expand the geography of flights and handle increasing passenger traffic,” AZAL President Jahangir Askerov said during the agreement signing, according to a press release posted to AZAL’s website.
“We are satisfied with the expansion of cooperation with Boeing Corporation, which is Azerbaijan’s reliable partner in supply, operation, and maintenance of modern passenger aircrafts,” the statement continued.
Boeing will receive around $1.9 billion for seven airplanes in total. Delivery of the order is scheduled for 2019 and 2020.
The Boeing 787-8 aircraft is a mid-size, dual aisle, twin-engine jet designed for international long-haul flights. It is Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airplane, and saves 20 percent more fuel per flight than that of similar-sized commercial jets, due to its raked wingtip. Specialized technology used in the engines dramatically decrease noise by up to 60 percent compared to conventional, modern-day aircraft.
The Dreamliner is considered large and luxury in the sky. Passenger amenities include a button-control anti-sunlight system, instead of traditional, manually controlled window shades. And the electrochromic dimming system allows passengers to adjust the brightness of portholes, from fully transparent to completely dim, in gradual steps, by pushing a designated button.
"The highest level of efficiency and comfort provided by the new 787 Dreamliner aircrafts is in line with the airline's [AZAL’s] fleet modernization plans and will help open new routes, securing their long-term success for many years to come," Kevin McAllister, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said after signing the deal with AZAL.
Pasha Kesamanski, the spokesperson for AZAL, did not specify for which destinations the new aircrafts will be used, but told Caspian News, “We will define it once the jets are in Baku.”
State-run AZAL is the largest air carrier in Azerbaijan, consisting of one of the newest airplane fleets in the Caspian region and in the world. Twenty four of its jets were manufactured by Airbus, Embraer, and Boeing.
AZAL, which was the first company from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country to purchase Dreamliner 787-8 jets, in 2014, currently uses two of the jets for its international flights, including segments from Baku to New York. AZAL also operates using five other Boeing aircraft.
The airline carried more than two million people to forty destinations, across twenty-five countries, in 2016, including to the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, China and Thailand. Alongside Russia’s state-run Aeroflot, AZAL is the only airline in the Caspian region that provides direct flights to the U.S.
Starting in 2018, AZAL will also be receiving 10 orders of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, based on a $1 billion contract signed in April. Two jets will be received sometime in late 2018, while the rest will be deployed by the end of 2020. The Boeing MAX deal is significant because it is the first transaction by AZAL completed without state funding.
Boeing MAX airplanes will be equipped with onboard wireless Internet connections for the duration of flight, as well as enhanced in-flight entertainment equipment and applications.