Prices for air tickets to Russian cities drastically raised in Tajikistan

On August 19, Somon Air told Radio Ozodi that a ticket for Dushanbe – Moscow flight costs TJS 4 thousand (more than US $ 400). “Those wishing to purchase an air ticket for August 21 should pay TJS 4,211,” the airline said. According to this source, the increase in airfare is associated with an increase in passenger traffic on the eve of the start of the school year.

Some air ticket sales offices in Dushanbe also said that airfare prices have risen due to the fact that many Tajik students return to study at Russian universities after the holidays. Currently, over 20 thousand students from Tajikistan are studying at higher educational institutions of Russia.

In mid-July, an air ticket for Dushanbe – Moscow flight cost TJS 2,000 – 2,500.

The increase in prices for airline tickets to Russian cities outraged users of social networks. Saida Muhiddinzoda wrote on Facebook on August 17 that they offer air tickets to one of the Russian cities at air ticket sales offices in Dushanbe at prices ranging from TJS 2,800 to TJS 3,500. “A week ago, for these flights, air tickets were sold at TJS 2 thousand. Just think: in a week, prices rose by almost TJS 1,000!” the lady was indignant.

Last month, Ikrom Subkhonzoda, CEO, Tajik Civil Aviation Agency, admitted that flights in Tajikistan are more expensive, as compared to neighboring countries. According to him, 40-45% of the air ticket cost is the cost of jet fuel, which is more expensive in Tajikistan, as compared to other countries in the region. The reason is that, according to him, jet fuel is imported into the country. “Despite this, the Civil Aviation Agency, at a meeting with representatives of local and foreign airlines, instructed not to artificially raise airfare prices,” Mr. Subkhonzoda noted.

In response to a question from journalists about why airfare in neighboring Kyrgyzstan is almost four times cheaper, Mr. Subkhonzoda again complained about the high cost of jet fuel. “We are doing our best to keep prices down. Currently, airfare has decreased by 10-12%, as compared to the same period last year,” the CEO of the Civil Aviation Agency said.

By the way, last year, according to the same agency, Tajik airlines raised their prices for flights to Russia by 23 percent. The cost of the cheapest air ticket for Dushanbe – Moscow flight increased from TJS 1,300 (US $ 140) to TJS 1,700 (US $ 180). For example, at the end of 2018, a cheap ticket from Bishkek to Moscow cost RUR 3,500 (US $ 55), which is three times cheaper than from Dushanbe.

Tajik aviation authorities acknowledge that Tajik airlines are losing passengers due to the high cost of air tickets. It is reported that residents of the Zeravshan Valley prefer to fly to other cities from the Uzbekistan’s Samarkand International Airport. Residents of Isfara and Kanibadam get to Russia via Osh and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Many Khujand people, as well as residents of Matcha and Ashta, fly from the Tashkent International Airport, Uzbekistan.

In recent years, due to the high cost of air tickets, many migrants prefer to get to Russia and Kazakhstan by bus.

Tajik experts say the need to introduce an “open skies” policy in Tajikistan, however, according to them, the monopolists of the domestic market are unlikely to allow it to be implemented. An ‘open skies’ policy will lower airfare and expand the air route network through transits between countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, experts say.

The first experience in introducing an “open skies” mode in the region was demonstrated by Kazakhstan in 2017, providing foreign airlines with access to daily flights to Astana with a third and fourth degree of air freedom. As a result of such an experiment, 88% increase in passenger traffic on domestic air routes and 30% on international air routes were recorded.

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