Stepanakert Airport

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Stepanakert Airport
Ստեփանակերտի օդանավակայան
Stepanakert Airport Daytime.JPG

IATA: noneICAO: UB13

Stepanakert is located in Azerbaijan
Location of the Airport in Azerbaijan
Airport type Military and civilian
Operator Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
Location Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabakh Republic (internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan)
Elevation AMSL 2,001 ft / 610 m
Coordinates 39°54′05″N 46°47′13″E / 39.90139°N 46.78694°E / 39.90139; 46.78694 (Stepanakert Air Base)Coordinates: 39°54′05″N 46°47′13″E / 39.90139°N 46.78694°E / 39.90139; 46.78694 (Stepanakert Air Base)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 2,178 7,145 Asphalt
Source: DAFIF[1]

Stepanakert Airport (Armenian: Ստեփանակերտի Օդանավակայան), called Khojaly Airport (Azerbaijani: Xocalı hava limanı) by Azerbaijan,[2] is an airport in Khojaly, near Stepanakert, the capital city of the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) which is an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan. The airport has been under the control of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic since 1992. Flights ceased to take place with the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1990. As the airport lies within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, and the current government is unrecognized, there are no codes for the airport in the official IATA list.[citation needed]

In 2009, the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities began the reconstruction of the facilities.[3] Though originally scheduled to launch the first commercial flights on May 9, 2011, Karabakh officials postponed a new reopening date throughout the whole of 2011.[4] In May 2012, the director of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Civil Aviation Administration, Tigran Gabrielyan, announced that the airport would begin operations in mid-2012.[5] However the airport still remains closed due to political reasons.


The airport is located at an elevation of 2,001 feet (610 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 05/23 with an asphalt surface measuring 2,178 by 37 metres (7,146 ft × 121 ft).[1]


By the end of 1980 the airport served regular passenger flights from Yerevan to Stepanakert. With the escalation of the Karabakh conflict, the constituted authorities of the Azerbaijan SSR blockaded of the Armenian SSR; the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (or NKAO) airport was the only means of communication with the outside world from the Karabakh region. The airport has been under the control of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic since the ceasefire agreement of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994.


In 2009, the construction of a new passenger terminal began. Repair work was also conducted on the main runway.[3] According to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Urban Development Minister Karen Shahramanian, the terminal building would be completed in November 2010; however this had been delayed until April 2011.[6] Air navigation equipment was also installed.[3] The authorities claim that the renovated airport will be capable of receiving 200 passengers every hour.[7]

On April 5, 2011 it was announced that the opening of the airport was postponed.[8] Dmitry Adbashyan, the head of Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) Civil Aviation Service announced that the airport launch would be taken place during the 2011 summer.[9][10] Nagorno Karabakh Republic officials also insisted that the postponement was not related to the ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan.[9][11]


Shortly after the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Civil Aviation Department's statement announcing the May 9, 2011 opening date, Arif Mammadov, director of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Administration warned that according to aviation laws, flights from Yerevan to Stepanakert are not authorized and may be shot down.[12][13]

The Nagorno Karabakh Republic response came from David Babayan, head of the central information department of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic President’s office, who said that the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army "will give an adequate response" if Azerbaijan attempts to shoot down an aircraft.[14] President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan condemned the threat to shoot down civilian aircraft, dismissing it as "nonsense".[15][16] Sargsyan also said that he would be the first passenger on inaugural Yerevan-Stepanakert flight.[15]

The Azerbaijani presidential administration condemned Sargsyan's statement as a provocation on the part of Armenia. A few days later, Elkhan Polukhov, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, declared that “Azerbaijan did not and will not use force against civil facilities.”[17]

The United States Assistant Secretary, Philip Gordon, as well as then ambassadors to Azerbaijan and Armenia, Matthew Bryza and Marie L. Yovanovitch, respectively, characterized that threat as "unacceptable"; and advised that issues related to the security of the airport should be solved before its opening.[18][19][20][21][22]

The OSCE Minsk Group, which mediates the conflict, reaffirmed that the operation of this airport could not be used to support any claim of a change in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and urged the sides to act in accordance with international law and consistent with current practice for flights over their territory.[23]

A number of individuals and groups have openly voiced their opposition to the opening of the airport, including the United States ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar who stated in November 2012 he was "convinced that the functioning of the airport would not help the peace process."[24]

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who stated “that such provocative actions will not serve to promote the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict," and called on Armenia "to stop such provocative steps.”[25] The GUAM's Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvili responded by stating that the airport was within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan and can not operate without Azerbaijan’s permission.[26]

On April 14, 2011, twenty-three members from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) endorsed a declaration condemning “the construction by Armenia of an airport in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.” The document stresses that the construction is contrary to the norms of international law. The declaration required Yerevan to stop the airport construction.[27]

The Turkish government condemned the efforts of Armenia to open the airport, and reiterated that it will close its air space to Armenia, if the opening goes ahead.[28]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

It is expected that Karabakh will have a regular flight services only to Yerevan, Armenia with a state-owned carrier called Artsakh Air. Created in January 26, 2011, it intended to purchase three Bombardier CRJ200 jets in 2011.[6] Officials have only stated that a one-way air ticket to the Armenian capital will cost 16,000 drams ($45 USD).[3] As of September 2015, the flights had not started.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Airport information for UB13 from DAFIF (effective October 2006)
  2. ^ "Khojaly Airport – a danger to aviation". The European Azerbaijan Society. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Karabakh To Reopen Stepanakert Airport". Asbarez. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh Flights On Hold Despite Airport Reconstruction". RFE/RL. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ (Armenian) "«Հայկական ժամանակ».Ստեփանակերտի օդանավակայանը վերջապես շահագործման կհանձնվի" (Haykakan Zhamanak: Stepanakert Airport will Finally Become Operational). Yelaket Lratvakan. May 30, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Nagorno-Karabakh Airport Preparing For First Flights In Decades". RFE/RL. January 27, 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Stepanakert airport to work after 10-year break." February 2, 2011.
  8. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh Flights On Hold Despite Airport Reconstruction". RFE/RL. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Stepanakert airport to start operating before September". ArmRadio. 2011-05-11. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Construction works of Stepanakert airport underway". May 15, 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "Stepanakert airport opening postponed for 'technical reasons'". ArmeniaNow. April 6, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Azerbaijan: Flights to Nagorno Karabakh Will Be Boarding at Gunpoint". EurasiaNet. March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Azerbaijan threatens to down Armenian flights". Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review. March 17, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  14. ^ Ghazinyan, Aris. "Air Message: Response to threats against the new airport in Stepanakert." ArmeniaNow. March 22, 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Sarkisian Says He’ll be 1st Passenger of the Yerevan-Stepanakert Flight". Asbarez. March 31, 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "Armenian leader to defy plane attack threat". Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Agence France-Presse. March 31, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Baku Retreats From Karabakh Flight Threats." RFE/RL. April 1, 2011.
  18. ^ Foreign Press Center With Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Embassy of the United States in Turkey, Tuesday, April 19, 2011
  19. ^ U.S. Department of State: threats to shoot down Karabakh-bound planes unacceptable, PanArmenian.Net, April 20, 2011
  20. ^ "Security issues should be resolved before opening Stepanakert Airport - Mathew Bryza." March 29, 2011.
  21. ^ "U.S.: Armenia, Azerbaijan 'Must Pull Out Snipers'." RFE/RL. March 19, 2011.
  22. ^ "Azerbaijan’s statements quite unacceptable, U.S. Ambassador says." March 23, 2011.
  23. ^ Statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
  24. ^ Rauf Orujov. State Department on Khojaly Airport: Ambassador Made Clearer Statement. Zerkalo. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  25. ^ "Turkish Foreign Minister expresses his attitude to the Armenia’s plan to build Airport in the occupied territories." APA.
  26. ^ "GUAM Secretary General Valeri Chechelashvil: "The international airport can not operate in Nagorno Karabakh"". Trend. May 4, 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  27. ^ "The construction of an airport in the occupied Azerbaijani territories by Armenia". Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. April 14, 2011. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  28. ^ Türkiye Ermenistan`a hava sahasını kapatacak October 12, 2012. (Turkish)