Azerbaijan Airlines to Order 20 Planes; Acquires 2 777s

Azerbaijani flag carrier, Azerbaijan Airlines, is currently preparing to order up to 20 new aircraft, comprising both Boeing and Airbus-made planes.

Azerbaijan Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787 in December 2014. Photo by Boeing.

Azerbaijan Airlines currently operates a passenger fleet of Airbus A320 family jets, Airbus A340s, Boeing 757s, Boeing 767s and Boeing 787s. It also has quite a big fleet of VIP-configured aircraft for the Azerbaijani government.

According to a post published on its facebook page, the airline has already signed an agreement for two passenger Boeing 777s, which will be used for new routes during the 2021-2022 period. The carrier says it is also planning to order a further 3 Boeing 777s and 8 Boeing 787s.

Azerbaijan Airlines President, Jahangir Askerov, said: "We are planning to further develop our relationship with Boeing, as well as consider the possibility of acquiring eight Boeing 787 Dreamliner and three Boeing 777".
Azerbaijan Airlines wants to acquire a further 8 Boeing 787s. Photo by Boeing.

Askerov continued: "This decision will allow us to expand the geography of our long-haul flights."

The airline will enter into negotiations with Boeing shortly while its President travels to Seattle.

Airbus will not be left out. Azerbaijan Airlines is looking to order up to 10 Airbus A320neo aircraft, renewing its fleet and improving the carrier's overall efficiency. Providing further medium-haul growth, the Airbus A320neos have "newer generation engines, improved deck systems and wider airbags" says Azerbaijan Airlines compared to its current A320ceo fleet.

Moreover, carrier is already in negotiations with Airbus, it says.

This is exciting news for Azerbaijan Airlines. However, while one can of course praise Azerbaijan Airlines for its plan to incorporate new aircraft, fleet commonality is already and may continue to be a problem. Azerbaijan Airlines is to incorporate the Boeing 777 into its fleet, adding to its existing 757s, 767s and 787s. Hopefully AZAL will use the 777 to replace its 767s, or even 757s, however they don't exactly operate in the same market. The Boeing 777 has more capacity than both the mentioned aircraft but perhaps Azerbaijan Airlines wants exactly that. If not, maintenance costs and crew training costs will go up and while probably sustainable, it's not ideal.

Photo by Boeing.

Despite that, Azerbaijan Airlines is spreading its wings; its fleet and network is set to grow. The end of 2019 is close and following the bankruptcy of a significant number of large airlines, including Thomas Cook and Wow Air, one can only hope that 2020 will be a better year for the aviation industry as a whole.

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