During my recent visit to Azerbaijan, I witnessed construction work of the Fizuli International Airport in the Karabakh region. Fizuli, located on the border with Iran, was one of the towns destroyed during the first Karabakh war (from the late 1980s to May 1994). During the more than 30-year occupation of the region by Armenia, Azerbaijanis could not fly to Karabakh region and there was little to see in Fizuli except scene of massive destruction.
As of this month, however, Fizuli International Airport has been completed and its first test flight has taken place.
Prof. Arye Gut, an Israeli expert on international conflicts and head of the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism, Israel, said: “It is a historic event when the Azerbaijan Airlines Airbus A340-500 flight took off from Baku and landed in Fizuli.”
According to Azerbaijani media reports, the plane named Karabakh. A Silk Way Airlines cargo Boeing 747-499 also has landed at Fizuli International Airport and regular cargo flights are now being operated to the Karabakh region.
Gut commented: “During my recent visit to this region, I witnessed the disaster that has struck it. There are almost no buildings, schools, libraries or museums. The Armenian occupiers have destroyed the region, through means of massive vandalism and looting.”
According to Gut, the area is still full of landmines. “Azerbaijani soldiers warned us not to step left or right off the road because the area is very dangerous and there are Armenian mines waiting for you everywhere.”
“The opening of Fizuli Airport is the most important, but not the last milestone in the reconstruction of Karabakh and the transformation of this region into a flourishing country with a developed infrastructure and economy,” he noted.
“In the future, Fizuli Airport will become the central transportation hub of Karabakh, handling passengers and cargo from many countries, not only those bordering Azerbaijan.”
According to Gut, “a 3,000-metre-long and 60-metre-wide runway has been established at Fizuli International Airport. It is fully equipped with instrument landing and navigation systems, lighting control and primary and secondary radar systems in accordance with all ICAO requirements. As a result, the airport will be able to accommodate any type of aircraft. The area of the airport is 60,000 square metres.”
“The construction of an air traffic control (ATC) tower equipped with automated ATC systems has been completed,” Gut added. In addition, Azerbaijan constructs a highway connecting Fuzuli International Airport with the city of Shusha.
This article was originally published in Jewish Press