18 May, 2024

Uzbekistan airport operator Air Marakanda announces new CEO

Air Marakanda, which manages Samarkand International Airport (SKD), has named Ulugbek Shamsikulov as its new Chief Executive Officer.  He replaces Anton Khojayan, who is moving to a new position in a state project.

Mr Shamsikulov said: “Under his excellent leadership, Anton has made a significant contribution to the development and modernisation of SKD, including the construction of our stunning new state-of-the-art terminal facility. We wish him every success moving forward.  I look forward to continuing the strategic vision to continue the growth of our airport’s route network and improvement in the quality of service enjoyed by passengers.”

Mr Shamsikulov brings three decades of aviation industry experience, after beginning his professional career as an engineer in Samarkand Airport’s Department of Development and Foreign Economic Relations. Having been promoted through a number of key posts, in 2013 he became a director of the airport, before departing in 2017. He returned a year later to the airport's emergency services and more recently has led the airport's airside ground operations.

The first major airport project in Uzbekistan to be built in a public-private partnership, Samarkand’s international terminal opened in early 2022, and doubled passenger numbers in each of its first two years. One million passengers used the airport for the first time in 2023.

SKD has already enjoyed continuing growth at the start of 2024, with 294,000 passengers using the ultra-modern airport terminal in the first three months of the calendar year, an increase of 39% on the same period of 2023. This helped SKD to report 55% growth in passenger numbers during the autumn-winter period (AWP) season, with 491,000 passengers using the terminal between 29 October 2023 and 30 March 2024. 

This growth is being driven by a big increase in the number of carriers using SKD for a first time – including Centrum Air, Humo Air, Qazaq Air, Red Wings, SunExpress and Ural Airlines, with new routes connecting Samarkand with cities including Izmir, Jeddah, Kazan, Tashkent, Turkestan and Yekaterinburg.

SKD has also welcomed the launch of Air Samarkand, the first carrier to establish its home base at the airport. It has been expanding its programme of charter flights and launched an initial scheduled return service to Istanbul, departing twice weekly every Monday and Thursday. 

Inside the terminal, members of the international loyalty program DragonPass are now able to use the CIP business lounge on their day of departure. The CIP lounge is also linked with the international loyalty programme ONPASS from the Mile-On-Air platform.