MIAMI – Founded in 2001, Silk Way Airlines (ZP), founded in Azerbaijan, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, delivering cargo and outside goods.

In those 20 years, the airline, which serves a global network of charter destinations, has visited over 130 countries and flown 70 million nautical miles while hauling 600,000 tons of freight. The airline has clocked an overall flight time of over 187,000 flight hours.

The airline was founded with a passenger aviation flight detachment as its foundation. Three crews who had successfully completed simulator training at the Ukrainian Uzin airport in 1996 were retrained at the Zhuliany training and technical center in Kyiv prior to the company’s formation.

They went on to form the first Silk Way Airlines flight crew after that.

Silk Way Airlines crews have carried out the delivery of special and critical cargo to regions completely cut off from the road network and to airfields with poor or almost nonexistent infrastructure, without ground support and equipment for loading and unloading operations. 

Silk Way West Airlines VP-BCR Boeing 747-400F(SCD). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Silk Way Airlines Aircraft


Silk Way Airlines now runs five Ilyushin cargo planes, two of which are IL-76TD-90s with PS-90A engines that meet the ICAO Annex 16 Chapter 4 noise requirement. Ilyushin freight planes are ideal for transporting heavy, high-value, or dangerous products, as well as oil and gas equipment, self-propelled equipment, and outsize cargo, thanks to superior cargo compartment equipment.

The airline now has 50 pilots, 170 co-pilots, and other aircrew members on staff. Silk Way Airlines’ most experienced pilot has logged over 28,000 flying hours.

In October 2001, an Ilyushin IL-76 flew the first international Silk Way Airlines freight flight on the Baku-Le Bourget-Bagram route. Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, this was the first civilian trip to Afghanistan.

SILK WAY WEST AIRLINES BOEING 747-83QF. Photo: Miles Aronovitz/Airways

Comments from Silk Way Airlines


Silk Way Airlines director Rahim Islamov said, “Our most important achievements over the last two decades have been the extensive experience we have gained, as well as overcoming a range of challenges along the way.

“Thanks to this, today, Silk Way Airlines provides its services not only in the Caspian region but also far beyond. There has undoubtedly always been a strong team of professionals behind this twenty-year success story.”

The carrier is part of the dynamically developing Silk Way Group, which occupies a leading position in the Azerbaijani economy. The group was reorganized into three companies in 2019 – Silk Way Airlines, Silk Way West Airlines (7L), and Silk Way Technics, providing air cargo transportation and aircraft maintenance services.


Featured image: Silk Way Airlines 4K-AZ100 Ilyushin IL-76TD-90VD. Photo: Robert Dumitrescu/Airways