Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev visited the construction site of the Lachin International Airport as part of his trip to the country’s liberated lands on Sunday.
In his speech, the president said the airport construction was not easy given the Lachin district’s terrain, mainly consisting of highlands and mountains. According to him, the most challenging phase of the airfield’s construction is leveling the ground for its runway.
“Therefore, earthworks will be continued next year,” President Aliyev said, according to his press service.
“I hope an international airport will be opened in Lachin in 2024, after which travel will be more comfortable. I am sure that this region will be a tourist destination because the natural beauty available here isn’t available anywhere else.”
The Lachin International Airport will be the third air harbor in the liberated lands of Azerbaijan, in addition to the international airports in the Fuzuli and Zangilan districts. The airport will be located at the Gorchu village of the Lachin district, slightly more than 30 and 60 kilometers from Lachin and Kalbajar cities, respectively, and about 70 kilometers from Shusha city. The foundation of the airfield was laid in 2021.
The airport’s runway, spanning 3000 meters in length, will be designed to receive all aircraft types, including large cargo planes. In addition, there will be six aircraft parking areas at the facility.
Once ready, the airport is expected to give impetus to the region’s socio-economic development and enhance its tourism potential. It will also contribute to the establishment of regional logistical centers.
The expansion of the civil aviation infrastructure in the Karabakh region comes as part of the state-run programs that followed the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region fell under Armenia’s occupation during the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan that lasted until a ceasefire deal in 1994. As a result of the war, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy carried out by Armenia.
Armenia’s authorities have repeatedly attempted to use the Karabakh region’s airspace and the Khojaly airport to host the flights of Armenian companies and military aviation. However, such illegal attempts faced a severe backlash from Azerbaijan, including ultimatums on international platforms.
In 2020, Azerbaijan regained access to the airspace over the Karabakh region. As a result of the 44-day-long war, the Azerbaijani army liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Gubadli, Zangilan, and Shusha, from illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Under the agreement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
The first new airport in the liberated Azerbaijani lands, the Fuzuli International Airport, was put into operation in October 2021. The airport, built by the Azerbaijani and Turkish companies, was inaugurated eight months after the groundbreaking ceremony and recognized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
In the meantime, the second airport in the liberated Azerbaijani lands is expected to come online in the Zangilan district this autumn. Since last week, the installation and electro-mechanical work have been underway in the airport’s main building.
The runway of the Zangilan International Airport will measure 3 kilometers in length and 60 meters in width. The airport will be able to receive all types of aircraft, including heavy cargo planes weighing up to 400 tons.
The ground for the airport was broken on April 26, 2021, by President Ilham Aliyev, while the construction began in May of the same year. The Baku-based AzVirt Construction Company is engaged in construction works.