Samarkand International Airport (SKD) yesterday welcomed its inaugural direct flight from Dubai operated by UAE national carrier – flydubai.
The plane landed at Samarkand International Airport greeted by the traditional water cannon salute. A delegation led by flydubai’s Chief Executive Officer – Ghaith Al Ghaith – was welcomed by Gairat Nematov, Chief Executive Officer at Air Marakanda – the company operating SKD – and other senior local officials.
Gairat Nematov, General Director of airport management company, Air Marakanda LLC, said, “The opening of a new route connecting Samarkand to Dubai will have a positive impact on the entire Samarkand region. Cooperating with our valued partners at flydubai, we have established a direct link between Samarkand International Airport and one of the biggest and most vibrant economic hubs in the world. Air Marakanda is very glad to welcome the new airline and we are committed to provide passengers to and from Dubai with a best-in-class airport experience.”
Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer at flydubai, commented, “flydubai is committed to opening up underserved markets and strengthening the links from Dubai and the UAE with the region. We are excited to see our network in Uzbekistan grow with the launch of flights to Samarkand. Since 2019 when we first started operations to Uzbekistan, we have seen sustainable demand and we are confident that the launch of our second destination will provide our passengers with more reliable and convenient options for travel.”
The airline will operate a twice-weekly service from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Samarkand International Airport. The start of flights to Samarkand strengthens the link between the Middle Eastern economic powerhouse and Uzbekistan and will contribute to Samarkand’s quickly expanding tourism industry and commerce between Uzbekistan and countries in the GCC.
The connection will be serviced on Tuesdays and Fridays. Return Business Class fares from DXB to SKD start from US$2,180 and Economy Class Lite fares start from US$490.
Flights operated by flydubai to another Uzbek destination – Namangan – will begin on 24 September, increasing the number of weekly flights to Uzbekistan to ten. The airline also services Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport.
The milestone flight follows an $80 million redevelopment and expansion project for SKD between Air Marakanda and state partner Uzbekistan Airports JCS. The new airport will serve the region’s population of 3.9 million and act as a hub for international transit flights.
Serving visitors to Uzbekistan’s most frequented tourist sites in, and around, historic Silk Road city Samarkand – the modern facility will be able to handle triple the number of passengers than it could previously. Independent research by market research firm, Lufthansa Consulting, forecasts an increase in annual passenger traffic from 480,000 to two million.