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© Gordzam

Silk Way Airlines and its subsidiaries have fought off complaints from National Air Cargo and won the right to operate flights to the US.

The three carriers, Silk Way, Silk Way West and SW Italia, can now operate all-cargo services into the US after approval was given earlier this month. Older documents show that the carriers are eyeing Chicago and Houston.

Silk Way first applied in 2014 and was met with a series of objections from rival National, despite Azerbaijan and the US signing an open skies agreement in April.

Silk Way accused National of “attempting to game the system for delay rather than making an earnest effort to articulate and resolve any valid issue”.

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It added: “Perhaps National should itself act in good faith and pursue its own operations using the newly available bilateral framework without perpetuating adversarial proceedings with the sole goal of holding the other carriers from pursuing their planned operations”.

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) responded that it had “taken note of National’s concern”, but saw “no persuasive basis to withhold the bilaterally agreed authority at issue”.

The news came as Silk Way West, which operates 747 freighters, had its eighth Boeing aircraft, its fourth 747-8F, delivered. It plans to fly into Chicago and  Dhaka.

Italian joint-venture SW Italia, which is 42% owned by Silk Way and operates one 747-400F, also won the right to fly between the EU and the US.

Silk Way, which operates Il-76s and AN-12s, plans to use the former for its US services. According to a document it filed in February 2015, it estimated a Baku-Houston-Baku flight with a 20T load would gain it some $522,000, or $455,000 to Chicago, while the cost would be between $405,000 and $458,000 – netting some $57,000.

It also estimated making 20 round trip flights a year, giving it a financial result of about $1.14m. However, as the calculations were based on 2013 data, the figures are likely to be different in the current climate.

Meanwhile, ASL Airlines France, part of the expanding ASL Group which took on TNT’s airlines, has also won the right to operate into the US. The airline operates quick-change 737s, allowing it to carry both passengers and cargo.

It applied for the rights in January, hoping to offer a May to September service between Paris CDG, Shannon and Providence RI.

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