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Uzbek Airliner Voyages Into Uncharted Territory

The 40-minute hop is another sign of Tashkent’s improving relations with neighboring Tajikistan.

13 April 2017

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have re-established regular air connections in what could be a step toward easing bilateral ties.

 

The first regularly scheduled flight between the neighboring countries in 25 years was delayed several times this year for reasons that are not entirely clear. The decision to reopen the air link late last year was a sign that frosty relations between Tashkent and Dushanbe might be on the upswing, Asia-Plus wrote in November.

 

An Uzbekistan Airways plane with 29 people on board landed Tuesday in Dushanbe after a 40-minute flight, marking what the company hopes will be a regular direct service between the two capitals.

 

An Uzbek Airways plane. Image via Anna Zvereva/Wikimedia Commons.

 

Several decisions by Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, have been seen as tentative reforms as the country moves on after the death of long-serving authoritarian leader Islam Karimov last fall.

 

What support existed on both sides for renewing direct Dushanbe-Tashkent flights was drowned out by very visible disputes over water rights and borders, The Diplomat writes.

 

The reopening of the Tashkent flights will come as a relief to Tajikistan, which also has air travel issues with Russia.

 

Earlier this month the Russian Transport Ministry banned several flights operated by Tajikistan’s Somon Air in retaliation for that country’s refusal of permission for a Russian carrier to run scheduled flights to Dushanbe, TASS reports.

 

The dispute began in November and led to Somon Air being banned from several Russian airports, EurasiaNet.org reported.

 

 

  • Uzbekistan first banned flights from Tajikistan in 1992 when civil war broke out there, AFP writes, then kept the ban in place as Karimov and Tajikistan’s leader Emomali Rahmon kept up a running war of words, mainly over Tajik hydropower projects Uzbekistan feared would hurt its large cotton industry.

 

  • Uzbekistan Airways earlier said it plans twice-weekly flights between Dushanbe and Tashkent using  Airbus A-320 aircraft, RFE/RL reports.

Compiled by TOL

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