The first plane flew over Baku city on October 20, 1910. It was a French biplane Farman-4 system piloted by Sergei Utochkin.
Azerbaijan got the official status for the new means of air transport in the region after 15 years of acquaintance with aviation: “TCAJS” Trans-Caucasus Civil Aviation Joint-Stock Society was founded in 1923. “Mughan Melioration Construction”, “Caspian Shipping”, “Azneft” were its founders. Planes of “TCAJS” were used in photographing operations, urgent delivery of cargoes and materials, as well as post transportation service.
“Yunkers” plane realized its flight in the Baku-Tbilisi-Baku route in April, 1923, two years later an aerodrome and a civil “Air station” were constructed in Keshla. In 1926, there were constant flights on the Mineralnie - Vodi - Grozny- Makhachkala - Baku - Yevlakh - Tbilisi routes.
In those years, airports with planes “Dornye-Comet-3” and “Dornye-Mercury” were put into operation in Baku, Yevlakh, Sheki. The crew of these planes consisted of two people. There were no navigation devices on the planes. The pilots operated flights by roads, railway lines, the relief of the location and only other familiar signs.
Kharkov- Baku- Pahlavi international line was opened in 1929, and a flight was realized to Moscow over the Caucasus that shortened the length of air road for 1100 kilometers for the first time in 1933. The scheduled airline en-route Baku -Moscow was opened in 1937, and planes of domestic production “XAI-1” and “Stal-3” (Сталь-3) served to 15 passengers every day.
Following year Baku - Kharkov, Baku - Grozny, Baku - Rostov, Baku - Astrakhan, Baku - Tbilisi flights opened. And the Baku Airport had been separated as an independent business unit by the order of the Council of People’s Commissars.
The first air squadron in Azerbaijan was formed on June 2, 1938. This date was declared the Azerbaijan Civil Aviation Day under the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2006.
During the period from 1941 to 1945 Azerbaijan aviation worked under the motto “All for the Front”.
After World War II, Azerbaijani pilots resumed carrying passengers and goods. New aircraft, such as Li-2, Il-14, Il-18, An-24, dedicated aircraft An-2, and helicopters Mi-1 and Mi-4 emerged on routes originating from Baku.
The new high-quality period in the history of Azerbaijan civil aviation coincides with the 70-80s of the century. Airports fitted with soft-surface runways to accommodate jet aircraft Yak-40 were built in Ganja, Yevlakh, Naftalan, Nakhchivan, Zagatala, Lankaran, Aghdam, Aghstafa, and Sheki. Now, one region of the Republic has been connected with Baku by air.
Thanks to the efforts of Azerbaijan’s national leader Heydar Aliyev, the Azerbaijani aviation fleet was among the first to buy jet planes Tu-134 and Tu-154, helicopters Mi-2 and Mi-8 in the Soviet Union. In those years, the aircraft became the most popular means of transport- fast, comfortable and affordable.
More than 200 million dollars was invested to the civil aviation. This investment allowed to provide the aircraft depot with modern “Boeing-757” planes, to renew flight management systems, to establish the system of training up to 20 professional personnel and to found an international passenger terminal in Baku in 1999 that receives aircraft of more than sixty airline companies.
Baku Cargo Terminal was completely constructed in March, 2005 and with this terminal Baku became the place of reloading of cargoes that are carried from west to east and from north to south.
That same year, Baku Cargo Terminal became member of IATA-International Airline Transport Association on Ground Maintenance and participated in the International Business Partners Program of the International Airports Council.
In the years following, Nakchivan International Airport, Ganja International Airport, and a new air terminal building in Zabrat Airport were put in commission. Besides, a five-star hotel was built in Heydar Aliyev International Airport. In 2008, Lankaran and Zagatala international airports were opened. “Aerobus-319”, “Aerobus-320” “ATR-72” and “ATR-42” airliners appeared in civil aviation. Two thirds of the park intended for the freight aircraft was renewed with the state-of-the-art machines.
In April 1992, after independence, state concern Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), also known as Azərbaycan Hava Yollari was officially established by the decision of the Government of Azerbaijan.
In 1996, a flight operations center Azeraeronavigasiya was set up within Azerbaijan Airways Concern. In 1997, AZALOIL enterprise was established as part of Azerbaijan Airlines.
In 1999, a new international terminal was opened at Baku airport.
In 2000, Azerbaijan Airlines bought the first planes of Boeing 757-200.
In 2004, by Decree of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Bina Airport was named Heydar Aliyev International Airport.
In 2004, the airport in the city of Nakhchivan received the status of an international air hub.
In 2005, a new cargo terminal (Baku Cargo Terminal) was opened at Heydar Aliyev International Airport.
In 2006, Ganja International Airport was reconstructed.
On 16 April 2008, as an integral part of modernization measures in this area, State Concern Azərbaycan Hava Yollari was renamed Azərbaycan Hava Yollari CJSC (AZAL) in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
In 2009, after major reconstruction, airports in Zagatala and Lankaran were granted international status.
In 2011, the European Economic Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industry (EEIG) issued a European Service Standard to Azerbaijan Airlines CJSC.
In 2011, Azerbaijan Airlines bought Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.
In 2012, an international airport was built in Gabala.
In 2013, Azerbaijan Airlines bought longest-haul passenger jet Airbus A340-500.
In 2013, the airline Azalagro was opened in Yevlakh.
In 2014, a new air terminal complex of Heydar Aliyev International Airport (Terminal 1) was commissioned.
In 2014, the fleet of Azerbaijan Airlines was replenished with the most advanced aircraft Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
In 2014, Azerbaijan Airlines bought jet aircraft from Brazilian manufacturer Embraer 190 and Embraer 170.
In 2014, Azerbaijan Airlines began to carry out regular transatlantic flights from Baku to New York.
In 2015, the national carrier of Azerbaijan and Heydar Aliyev International Airport was awarded a prestigious 4 Star Airline quality ranking by the British consulting company Skytrax, which is the world-famous and most influential in the sphere of assessing the quality of airline service.
In 2016, Azerbaijan signed the Open Skies agreement with the United States of America.
In 2016 Nakhchivan International Airport was reconstructed. Aicraft bridges have emerged at the airport for the first time.
In 2016 AZAL CJSC formed the first low-cost airline of Azerbaijan - Buta Airways.
In 2017, Heydar Aliyev International Airport was named the best among all airports in Russia and CIS countries by company Skytrax.
In 2018, Heydar Aliyev International Airport was awarded the highest possible 5 stars of rating by company Skytrax.
Today, AZAL is a major air carrier and one of the leaders of the aviation community of CIS countries. The total route network of the airline is about 40 points in 25 countries.
Civil aircraft of Azerbaijan fully comply with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and AZAL is a member of the most prestigious civil aviation association – the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
AZAL has one of the latest aircraft park consisting of 23 aircraft.
The headquarters of AZAL is located in Baku, at Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which meets the requirements of international standards.