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Silk Way Airlines

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Silk Way Airlines
Silk Way Airlines logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 2001
Hubs Heydar Aliyev International Airport
Fleet size 24
Destinations 49
Company slogan We are restoring old routes by air cargo transportation.
Parent company SW Group[1]
Headquarters Baku, Azerbaijan

Silk Way Airlines is an Azerbaijani private cargo airline with its head office and flight operations at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, Azerbaijan.[1] It operates freight services linking Europe and Asia, United States and Africa, as well as services for government and non-governmental organisations.


The company was founded in 2001 and started commercial flights on 6 October 2001.[2] In early 2015 a contract was being negotiated for another 3 Boeing 747-8 freighters.[3] In May 2015 the airline was announced as the launch customer for the Antonov An-178 after placing an order for 10 aircraft.[4] In 2017, the company signed purchase of 10 more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with total cost of $1B.[5]


A Silk Way Airlines Douglas DC-8 at Zurich Airport in 2003.
An Antonov An-12 of Silk Way Airlines at Luxembourg Findel Airport in 2004.
An Ilyushin Il-76 of Silk Way Airlines approaches Dubai International Airport in 2010.
A Silk Way Airlines Boeing 747-400F lands at Malpensa Airport in 2011.
Silk Way Airlines Boeing 747-8F in 2016

As of April 2013, Silk Way Airlines offers scheduled flights to the following destinations:[6]


The Silk Way Airlines fleet consists of the following freighter aircraft (as of August 2016):

Silk Way Airlines fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Notes
Antonov An-12BK 3
Antonov An-178 10[7]
Boeing 747-400F 5
Boeing 747-8F[8] 9 2 additional aircraft planned
Ilyushin Il-76TD 7
Total 24 10

Cargo and munitions transportation

In July 2017, an investigation[9] by the leading Bulgarian daily newspaper Trud, which has a reputation for investigative crime reporting,[10] revealed how Silk Way Airlines exploited a loophole in the international aviation and transport regulations to offer flights to arms manufacturers and private companies – with much of the cargo heading for known terrorist enclaves in Syria, and also to other conflict zones including Central Asia and Africa. Under the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations, the transport of military cargo by civil aircraft is not allowed. To get around this legality, Silk Way Airlines applied for diplomatic exemption for aircraft and their cargo (diplomatic charter flights), through local agencies to transport heavy weapons, ammunition, and white phosphorus across the world to several war zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria, as well as to African countries like Congo and Burkina Faso.[11][12][13]

The published documents included correspondence between the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Bulgaria with attached documents for weapons deals and diplomatic clearance for overflight and/or landing in Bulgaria and many other European countries, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey and other countries. The documents disclosed that American weapons manufacturers had shipped over $1 billion of weapons through Silk Way Airlines, corporate subcontractors included ″Purple Shovel LLC″ based in Sterling, Virginia, US Department of Defense subcontracting vehicle ″Culmen International LLC″ based in Alexandria, weapons and defense procurement firm ″Chemring Military Products″ based in Perry, Florida. When Silk Way Airlines did not have enough available planes, Azerbaijan’s Air Force jets would transport the military shipments. In the investigation, the reporter accused responsible authorities of many countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq, and the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)) to "have turned a blind eye and allowed diplomatic flights for the transport of tons of weapons, carried out by civil aircrafts [sic] for military needs."[9][14][15]

Incidents and accidents


  1. ^ "Contact." Silk Way Airlines. Retrieved on 25 August 2011. "Head office Heydar Aliyev International Airport AZ1044 Baku, Azerbaijan."
  2. ^ " AeroTransport Data Bank". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "Silk Way Eyes More 747-8s". Airliner World: 10. March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Antonovs for Silk Way". Airliner World (July 2015): 8. 
  5. ^ Holding, APA Information Agency, APA. "Silk Way Airlines to purchase ten Boeing-737 MAX aircrafts [sic] for $1B". Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Silk Way Airlines timetable at
  7. ^ "Silk Way Airlines signs a firm order for ten Antonov An-178 freighters after the successful first flight". World Airline News. 
  8. ^ "Boeing". 
  9. ^ a b Dilyana Gaytandzhieva: 350 diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists, Trud, 2. July 2017
  10. ^ John Herbert (2001). "Practising Global Journalism: Exploring Reporting Issues Worldwide, Focal Press". Oxford and Woburn, MA. p. 186. ISBN 978-0240516028. 
  11. ^ Azerbaijani Silk Way Airlines carries out 350 diplomatic flights transporting weapons for terrorists – scandalous investigation, Armenpress, 4 July 2017
  12. ^ ‘These documents implicate Azerbaijan in international weapons supply for terrorists’ – Bulgarian journalist’s exclusive interview, Armenpress, 5 July 2017
  13. ^ Azerbaijan's Silk Way Airlines Accused of Transporting Weapons to War Zones, Meydan TV, 7 July 2017
  14. ^ Harut Sassounian: The U.S. and Europe Must Investigate Azerbaijani Shipments of Weapons to Terrorists, The Armenian Weekly, 11 July 2017
  15. ^ Report: Saudi, UAE weapons end up with armed groups, Al Jazeera, 27 August 2017
  16. ^ Harro Ranter (7 November 2002). "ASN Aircraft accident Antonov 12BK 4K-AZ21 Kome". 
  17. ^ Harro Ranter (6 July 2011). "ASN Aircraft accident Ilyushin 76TD 4K-AZ55 Bagram Air Base (BPM)". 
  18. ^ "The Aviation Herald". 
  19. ^ "Azerbaijani plane crash victims identified". Reuters. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 

External links

Media related to Silk Way Airlines at Wikimedia Commons