Lonely Planet Writer

First flight in 25 years between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan touches down

For the first time in more than two decades, travellers can fly between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. On 11 April, the first flight between the two countries went into operation and will continue on a twice-weekly schedule. According to an Uzbekistan Airways press release, “flights from Dushanbe to Tashkent will be operated twice a week on Tuesdays (departure at 9:50) and on Saturdays (departure at 13:40). The flight time will be about one hour.”

Blue domes of the Madressa through open wooden door in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
Blue domes of the Madressa through open wooden door in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Image by ©Ozbalci/Getty Images

All air traffic between the neighbouring Central Asian countries was suspended in 1992, when the Tajikistani Civil War resulted in tensions between the two, and what some analysts termed an ‘undeclared cold war’. In 2016, tensions appeared to ease following the death of Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov, and the election of his successor, President Shavkat Mirziyaev, who promised to improve relations between Uzbekistan and its neighbours.

In February, a planned commercial flight between the two countries was cancelled. Authorities cited bureaucratic and technical reasons for cancelling the flight.

Iskanderkul mountain lake of glacial origin in Tajikistan's Sughd Province.
Iskanderkul mountain lake of glacial origin in Tajikistan’s Sughd Province. Image by ©Damon Lynch/500px

Some travellers took to social media to criticise the new flights, with cost being a particular point of contention. Initial tickets for the flight were on sale for US$190, which critics pointed out is a hefty sum in local terms. By comparison, the cost to take private or shared taxis – until now the only transport option between the two cities – was around US$35 for a one way. Much of the higher cost can be attributed to hefty airport taxes levied by both Dushanbe’s and Tashkent’s airports.

However, other travellers were happy to pay more to fly, as they felt the reduced travel time from 10-12 hours by car to 45 minutes in the air was worth the higher ticket price.

This story was updated on 12 April.

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.