Azerbaijan Airlines CJSC (AZAL) has launched flights to another city of Pakistan – Karachi.

This is the third city where the national carrier operates flights to Pakistan, after Islamabad and Lahore.

Flights will be carried out twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, with “Airbus” planes.

A plane full of passengers

The first flight from Baku to Karachi was full of passengers. Most of the passengers were citizens of Pakistan and, partly, citizens of Azerbaijan, including a group of journalists and bloggers. The sale of all the tickets indicated that AZAL’s calculations regarding passenger flow to Karachi and vice versa were correct.

As of now, those who wanted to go from Baku to Karachi had to fly to other cities of the country at best, and from there they had to reach their final destination. Direct flights will allow passengers to save both time and money. AZAL expanded its route network with this flight and strengthened its position in the aviation market.

Friendly welcome

Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport is named after Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and is the country’s largest airport. Foreign nationals are required to obtain an online visa to enter Pakistan (the visa fee is $25). A crowd of people greets us at the airport. Among them are taxi drivers, those who come to meet passengers, and those who are engaged in small trade and try to sell something.

Those who see that we differ from Pakistanis by our appearance approach us and ask where we come from. When we say that we are from Azerbaijan, the expression on people’s faces changes, we feel sincerity, friendly attitude, and Eastern hospitality. This is also natural. Once again, we are sure that it is not only the state of Pakistan, but also its people, which stands by Azerbaijan in all issues and expresses its support for our country.

Economic, historical, and cultural center of the country

Located on the coast of the Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea), where the winds blowing from the sea reduce drought, local residents call Karachi the ‘City of Lights’. It was the capital of Pakistan in 1947-1960. But even now, the importance of this city for the country is no less than that of the capital, Islamabad. Karachi is considered the economic, historical, and cultural center of Pakistan. For example, Karachi is for Pakistan what Istanbul is for Türkiye.

Head offices of leading Pakistani companies, banks and even the Pakistan Stock Exchange are located in Karachi. The sea port here is one of the largest and busiest ports in the ocean. Moreover, the city is rich in historical and cultural monuments and museums. This is a very important factor for the development of tourism. That is, there are enough addresses that those who want to come to Karachi as tourists can visit.

Among them, the Mohatta Palace, which we visited too, the mausoleum where M.A. Jinnah was buried, and his house museum, the Hindu Gymkhana, where the National Academy of Performing Arts is located, the museum and art gallery of the State Bank of Pakistan (Central Bank) should be specially mentioned.

A safe city

Pakistan, which is in a state of conflict with India and a neighbor with an unstable socio-political situation like Afghanistan, creates the impression of a dangerous country at first glance. But the local government is doing its best to ensure the safety of people, especially tourists coming to the country. In this regard, the protection of public order in Karachi is also in focus.

Armed police officers can be seen on all streets, at the entrances of shopping centers, public catering facilities, including restaurants, and hotels. Trade and service facilities where people gather in large numbers are especially strictly controlled, those who enter those facilities are checked with electronic devices. From this point of view, Karachi can be considered a safe city.

Everyone knows English

Pakistan was a British colony until 77 years ago. Therefore, almost everyone in the country knows English. Along with Urdu, English has been adopted as the state language in this country. That is, if those who come to Pakistan as tourists can speak English at a basic level, they will not have any communication problems in this country. Everywhere, the inscriptions are in both Urdu and English.

Affordable prices

Pakistan, including Karachi, is not an expensive destination for tourists. Some goods and services offered here are cheaper than in Azerbaijan. This is due to the fact that at one time, Pakistan experienced serious economic problems and, in some cases, came close to default. In a word, the financial situation of the state inevitably affected the prices in this country.

Therefore, those who come to Karachi as tourists can stay and shop here at reasonable prices. A simple example: small magnetic souvenirs sold in Baku for at least 5 manats ($2.94) can be bought here for 1-2 manats ($0.59-$1.18) with Azerbaijani currency. Also, textile goods are cheap. By the way, they control the implementation of exchanges in the national currency (rupee) in the country, and it is impossible to buy something in dollars in most cases.

Pakistan is an important market for AZAL

Our visit to Karachi took place with the support of Mian’s Group, the main sales agent of AZAL in Pakistan. Chairman of the holding, Amer Said Mian, says that Pakistan is an important market for Azerbaijan Airlines due to its strategic position, strong cultural ties between the two countries, and the growing demand for air transportation: “Furthermore, Pakistan’s dynamic economy and developing tourism make the country an attractive destination for airlines looking to expand their route network.” We continuously evaluate the market, its efficiency, and its needs, and we are ready to further expand our presence or passenger services.”

There may be a large influx of tourists from Karachi to Baku

During the visit to Karachi, we were accompanied by Khawaja Jahan Zeb, CEO of Zeb Travels, one of Pakistan’s leading tourism companies. According to him, Azerbaijan is a very important country for Pakistan, its citizens like to travel to Baku and Gabala: “So far, many Pakistanis have visited Azerbaijan through our company. Currently, more than 30 million people live in Karachi, which means that with the new flight of AZAL, there can be a massive influx of tourists from this city to your country. Flights to Azerbaijan are cheaper compared to Türkiye. Your visa procedure is quite simple. Your prices are affordable. Therefore, your country is accessible to our citizens.”

He added that in the future, along with AZAL, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) may also conduct direct flights between the two countries: “Our national carrier plans to conduct flights from Lahore and Karachi to Baku. But now PIA is on the verge of being privatized. The government wants to transfer the airline to the private sector, considering the economic difficulties. I am sure that the new owner of PIA will also be interested in flying to Azerbaijan.”

Karachi promises great prospects for businessmen