President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended on Thursday the opening of the Zangilan International Airport in the liberated Azerbaijani district of Zangilan.
The presidents received symbolic keys during a ribbon cutting ceremony where the state-of-the-art airport was officially unveiled and opened, according to the press service of the Azerbaijani president.
President of Azerbaijan Airlines, Jahangir Asgarov, briefed the presidents about the Zangilan International Airport, the groundwork for which was laid on April 26, 2021, by President Aliyev. Asgarov noted that runway of the air harbor measures 3,000 meters in length and 60 meters in width. It is designed to accommodate all types of aircraft, including wide-body heavy cargo aircraft.
The airport will support operating flights in line with ICAO and IATA standards. The flights will be monitored from an Air Traffic Control Tower equipped with fully automated air traffic control and aviation communication systems. Flight safety will be ensured by modern aeronautical support systems of leading Italian and German brands certified under ICAO international requirements. The cutting-edge ILS/DME landing systems, VOR/DME route aircraft navigation tools, automated aviation and meteorological observation systems, and primary and secondary radar systems were installed and put into use at the airport. All systems are registered in the international aviation catalogs of ICAO and Eurocontrol.
The top-notch terminal of the Zangilan International Airport will be able to serve 200 passengers per hour. All necessary service facilities, including a VIP hall, a cafe, a medical center, as well as office rooms are available inside the airport's terminal.
Baku-based economic analyst, Vugar Bayramov described Zangilan International Airport as one of the most important projects in the liberated Azerbaijani lands from an economic and strategic standpoint.
"We will reach East Zangazur [economic region] from Baku in 45 minutes. Zangilan International Airport will give us this opportunity," he wrote on Facebook. "Zangilan, which forms part of East Zangazur, is a district with great potential in terms of economy and tourism. In addition to domestic market, the products produced here can be exported directly to foreign countries. Zangilan Airport will be integrated into the Zangazur corridor, which will be put into use in the near future."
Bayramov added that the airport will become an element of east-west and north-south transport corridors, increasing the volume of international cargo transported through Azerbaijani territories and generating more income for the country. Since the tourism potential in Eastern Zangazur is high, the construction of this airport promises big in accommodating both local and international flights, according to him.
Meanwhile, the inauguration of the Zangilan International Airport took place on the second anniversary of Zangilan's liberation from Armenian occupation. On October 20, 2020, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces ousted Armenian occupiers from Zangilan as part of the 44-day Second Karabakh War.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds for nearly three decades. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a full-blown military campaign against Azerbaijan, marking the longest and deadliest war in the South Caucasus region. The bloody war lasted until a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy conducted by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan spiralled after Armenia’s forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
The reconstruction and modernization of the civil aviation infrastructure in Azerbaijan’s liberated lands come as part of the state-run programs rolled out shortly after the 2020 war with Armenia.
The Zangilan International Airport is the second airport built in the liberated Azerbaijani lands after 2020 and the first in the East Zangazur region. The first new airport, the Fuzuli International Airport, was put into operation in October 2021. The airfield was recognized by the IATA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The third airport in the liberated Azerbaijani lands is scheduled to come online in the Lachin in 2024. It will be the highest-altitude airfield in Azerbaijan located nearly 2,000 meters above sea level.