Uzbekistan cancels long-awaited return of air flights from Dushanbe

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — The long-awaited return of regular passenger air flights from Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe to Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent has been canceled by the Uzbek side with no explanation from Tashkent, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reports.

With the exception of a test flight on February 10, there have been no direct civilian flights between the two capitals since 1992.

A flight from Dushanbe to Tashkent by Tajikistan’s Somon Air company, scheduled for February 20, was meant to highlight the restoration of unchartered civilian flights.

However, Somon Air officials announced on February 20 that Uzbekistan’s government decided at the last moment “not to allow the flight.”

Somon Air said it did not receive any explanation for Tashkent’s decision.

There was no immediate word about whether the flight would be rescheduled.

The Dushanbe-Tashkent flight would make it easier for travelers to make the trip between the two capitals, which are separated by rugged mountains and arid plains.

Flights between the two former Soviet republics were suspended when a five-year civil war erupted in Tajikistan in 1992.

Several rounds of negotiations between Tajik and Uzbek government officials to resume them failed in recent years amid frosty relations under longtime Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who died last year.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who replaced Karimov after his death and won the presidential election in December, has promised to improve ties with neighboring Central Asian states and take other steps to decrease Uzbekistan’s isolation.

An agreement to resume Dushanbe-Tashkent flights was signed in November.

Sergey Kwan

TCA