The Uzbekistan government may commence operation of a low-cost carrier under national flag carrier Uzbekistan Airways later this year or next year. Earlier this year the government had made a decision to consider exploring the launch of such a carrier. The airline has been studying the experience of other airlines’ low-cost carrier launches and developing a certification program for a low-cost operator.
The airline projects the low-cost carrier's launch will decrease airfares for international flights. The future carrier would operate flights to its primary destination Russia and potentially to Turkey and Egypt. Domestic routes would be covered also. At present, a one-way ticket for a Moscow-Tashkent route costs more than $200. The carrier expects to lower it to $100, according to an Uzbekistan Airways spokesman.
With its population of 33 million (the largest in Central Asia) and proximity to the Middle East, Russia, and West Asia, Uzbekistan has a large potential to serve as home to a low-cost carrier. Moreover, the airline has the capacity to launch a low-cost carrier as it renews its fleet. Uzbekistan Airways recorded passenger growth of 9.4 percent last year.
In May, it halted operation of its last Ilyushin IL-114-100 regional turboprop, ending the era of Soviet-made aircraft in the Uzbekistan Airways fleet as the airline received its third Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Uzbekistan Airways was the first customer to begin flying the 787-8 in Central Asia and will take delivery of its sixth Dreamliner by 2020, making it the operator of the largest fleet of this type in the CIS. Il-114 flight crews are being retrained for Boeing and Airbus operations.
At present, Uzbekistan Airways operates more than 30 western aircraft and employs 15,000. The Uzbek airline operates regular flights to more than 40 cities in Europe, Asia, and America, as well as 11 local destinations. Uzbekistan has 11 airports, six of them international.