Operator Air Marakanda has celebrated the opening of the newly expanded and redeveloped Samarkand International Airport in Uzbekistan.

Serving visitors to Uzbekistan’s most frequented tourist sites in and around historic Silk Road city Samarkand, the modern facility will be able to handle triple the number of passengers as before. Independent research by Lufthansa Consulting forecasts an increase in annual passenger traffic from 480,000 to two million.

Upon completion, the number of regular flights will increase from 40 to 120 per week, with 24 new aircraft parking spaces available. Having served only five destinations in 2019, Air Marakanda’s route development plan aims to increase destinations to 30 by 2030.

Upgrades include easy access for passengers with limited mobility, 29 check-in desks, eight boarding gates, four airstairs, ten passport control booths, six E-gates for departing passengers, and 15 passport control booths for arriving passengers. More than 3km of runway has been added.

The public-private partnership responsible for the $80m project involves Air Marakanda and state partner Uzbekistan Airports JCS. The construction work was carried out by leading Uzbekistan engineering, procurement and construction firm Enter Engineering based on an architectural design by the Turkish design and engineering company Kiklop Construction.

Hilmi Yilmaz, Air Marakanda’s deputy general director of operations, said: “I am certain Samarkand International Airport, as one of the region’s most important infrastructure facilities, will stimulate economic growth and business development in the adjacent areas, creating jobs for the local population and benefitting society as a whole. An airport is the first thing you see when you arrive in a country and the last thing you see when you leave. Samarkand International Airport will become a ‘visiting card’ of Uzbekistan.”