Air Samarkand (9S, Samarkand) is planning to operate up to eight aircraft by the end of 2025, more than double its current fleet of three, Chief Executive Anton Khojayan told Airways Magazine.

The Uzbek start-up launched in late 2023 with a single A330-300, initially deploying it on charter flights out of Samarkand. It also took deliveries of one A321-200 and one A321-200NX, although neither has yet been deployed into revenue service. Khojayan said that another A321-200NX was due by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

While the airline will continue to focus on the charter market for the coming weeks, it plans to debut scheduled services at the end of March 2024, with the start of the Summer 2024 scheduling season. While Khojayan did not disclose specific destinations, he said the airline will focus on East and South-East Asia (China, Viet Nam, Malaysia, and Indonesia) in the first phase of its scheduled expansion. The Middle East and eventually Europe would be targeted later.

Air Samarkand aims to turn Samarkand, Uzbekistan's second-largest city and a major tourism hotspot, into a much more important destination than it has historically been. Khojayan pointed out that with the city's tourism allure and a large number of unserved markets, the growth potential for Samarkand is "limitless". The airline will outfit its aircraft with two-class seating, targeting the premium segment. While it aims to focus on traffic to/from Samarkand, it is also working together with the airport operator to facilitate connections via the city, bypassing the more congested Tashkent International hub.