During my recent visit to Azerbaijan, I witnessed the construction work to rebuild the Fizuli International Airport in the Karabakh region. Fizuli, on Iran’s border, was one of the cities that were destroyed during the First Karabakh War (late 1980s to May 1994). During Armenia’s thirty-year-plus occupation of the region, Azerbaijanis were unable to fly into the Karabakh region and there wasn’t much to see in Fizuli except massive destruction.
But as of this month, the Fizuli International Airport has been rebuilt entirely and the first test flight has taken place there.
Prof. Arye Gut, an Israeli expert on international conflicts and the head of the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism in Israel, said, “This is a historic event, having Azerbaijan Airlines Airbus Flight number A340-500 take off from Baku and land in Fizuli.”
According to reports in the Azerbaijani media, the aircraft was named Karabakh. A Silk Way Airlines Boeing 747-499 also landed at Fizuli International Airport and regular shipments are now being transported by air to the Karabakh region.
Gut noted: “During my recent visit to this region, I witnessed the calamity it had endured. There are almost no buildings, schools, libraries, or museums. The Armenian occupiers destroyed the area and added massive vandalism and looting.”
According to Gut, the area is still filled with landmines: “Azerbaijani soldiers warned us not to veer left or right off the roads, as this area is very dangerous and Armenian landmines are waiting for you everywhere.”
“The reopening of the Fizuli airport is the most important, but not the last milestone in the restoration of Karabakh, and the transformation of this region into a flourishing land with a developed infrastructure and economy,” he noted. “In the future, Fizuli airport will become the central transport hub of Karabakh, handling passengers and cargo from many countries, beyond those bordering Azerbaijan.”
According to Gut, “A runway 3,000 meters long and 60 meters wide was installed at the Fuzuli International Airport. It is fully equipped for instrumental landing and navigation systems, lighting control, and primary and secondary radar systems in keeping with all ICAO requirements. This will allow the airport to accommodate any type of aircraft. The area of the airport is 60 thousand square meters.”
“The construction of an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower equipped with automated ATC systems is completed,” Gut added. In addition, a highway connecting the Fuzuli International Airport with the city of Shusha is under construction.