Uzbekistan Airways is preparing to enter the international air cargo market with leased Airbus A300-600 freighters and a designated hub.
The carrier says it will begin scheduled freight services in April using two aircraft leased from Korean Air.
Under a related agreement with the Uzbekistan Government, Korean Air has secured management rights for Navoi Airport, in the south of the country, which it will help develop into a logistics nexus for central Asia.
"Our plan is to provide an alternative air cargo route between Europe and southeast Asia," says Uzbekistan Airways director general Valery Tyan. "Initially, we'll operate five flights a week from Navoi to Europe and up to a dozen to selected Asian destinations."
Last August Korean Air launched three weekly Boeing 747 cargo flights on the Seoul-Milan route with landings at Navoi airport. The carrier's parent, Hanjin Group, says it is to invest heavily in developing local infrastructure jointly with Uzbek authorities over the next 20 years.
Navoi Airport is designed to be an intercontinental air cargo hub with comprehensive multi-modal logistics capabilities serving five neighbouring countries. Tyan also expects it to become a gateway for international travellers to the nearby ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.
The project includes construction of a freight terminal to handle 200,000t of cargo a year, modernisation of passenger transport facilities as well as construction of an aircraft maintenance centre.