After the presentation to the President of the Samarkand airport reconstruction project, the Deputy PM/Minister of Tourism and Sports Aziz Abdukhakimov told reporters about the efforts aimed to attract foreign tourists to the city.
“We are currently using of 5% of Samarkand’s tourist potential at most. In 2021, 165 thousand passengers are expected to arrive at the Samarkand International Airport. For comparison: the capacity of the airports of Osh and Shymkent is at least 1.3-1.4 million passengers per year. This testifies to the poor use of the potential of Samarkand,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
He added that the new airport will introduce open skies policy, which "will allow the launch of many direct flights to the city." A presentation was made for all major air carriers, on the new opportunities of the airport, 15 of them expressed their readiness to operate flights to Samarkand, the minister said.
Aziz Abdukhakimov also explained why the citizens of Arab countries are the main consumers of tourism products in Uzbekistan.
“Europeans travel a couple of times a year. And the citizens of Arab countries have high incomes. In Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, citizens prefer family travel. This means they will spend more and stay longer. They travel every month. When we investigated this factor through our embassies in these countries, we realized that they are very suitable guests for us,” said the Deputy PM.
He also mentioned the President's instruction to create a simplified system for issuing take-off and landing permits, lower fuel prices and cut airport service costs. Aziz Abdukhakimov explained that the open skies policies will help to cut prices for Uzbekistan Airways flights and create a level playing field for all participants in the aviation market.
“For example, a flight from Istanbul to Shymkent costs 260 dollars, and to us - 450 dollars. The difference is almost $ 200. Of course, we cannot be competitive. But now, when Samarkand international airport opens, prices will go down. This is a market, we want to provide everyone with opportunities. Open skies means that all airlines can fly to the airport. Their flights will be reciprocal, which means that ours will also be able to use their services,” he concluded.
The Samarkand international airport reconstruction project was presented to Shavkat Mirziyoyev on April 15 during his trip to the province. Then it was reported that the facility was due to be commissioned in September this year.