HUMO Air, a new low-cost airline based in Uzbekistan has announced that it is ready to launch flights. The carrier will start Airbus A320 operations to four domestic destinations with the first flight set to take off on December 15, 2023.
The new airline is aiming to become a key player in the Uzbekistan aviation industry, offering reasonably priced flights to destinations not served by other Uzbek airlines.
The carrier was acquired by Swiss private equity firm Valley Road Capital Humo S.A last year for $2.4 million, having previously operated as an air taxi operator. The airline was established by Uzbekistan’s national airline Uzbekistan Airways and acquired that carrier’s aging fleet of 43 Antonov An-2 aircraft in January 2020. The carrier received its AOC in May 2020 and launched services in October 2020.
The airline’s services will connect the capital city of Tashkent to Urgench, Samarkand, Karshi, and Nukus daily. As more aircraft are added to the fleet, flights to Bukhara, Fergana, Namangan, and Termez will be added. International flights to Almaty, Istanbul, and Dubai are scheduled to start in 2024.
At a launch event held by the airline in October 2023, HUMO Air announced its plan to launch an all-Airbus fleet of A320 and A321 aircraft. The initial fleet would include four aircraft, rising to 18 planes by the end of 2025. At the launch event, a spokesperson for the airline said that HUMO Air “is poised to transform domestic travel, making it not only more accessible but also more affordable for both Uzbek citizens and international visitors.”
HUMO Air has planned its daily schedule around the likely needs of its potential customer base. Flights from Tashkent to Nukus depart at 05:50 local time, Urgench at 17:20, Samarkand at 14:20, and Karshi at 10:15.
“We are pleased to open sales and announce the start of flights from Tashkent’s modern airport to the most popular destinations for Uzbekistan citizens and international guests,” said Andrey Chernyaev, Chairman of Humo Air. “Our goal is to increase passenger traffic, boost footfall, and make traveling around the country more affordable, easy, and comfortable. Additionally, we will fly to regional and international countries soon. Humo Air will offer convenient and comfortable direct flights at affordable prices.”
The airline has recently taken delivery of its first aircraft in preparation for the start of scheduled services. The aircraft, currently registered LZ-MDI, was ferried from Sofia in Bulgaria to Tashkent on December 12, 2023, in full HUMO Air colors.
This aircraft is 15 years old and previously flew with Bulgarian charter airline Fly2Sky. The aircraft was originally delivered to South American airline TACA International Airlines, before being transferred to Avianca in Colombia.
HUMO Air will offer a single-class 180-seat economy layout on all its aircraft to maximize passenger capacity. As with other low-cost carriers worldwide, the airline will fully exploit ancillary revenue streams by charging for large and hold luggage, meals, and seat selection services.
Over the period between December 2023 and March 2024, HUMO Air plans to complete 1,000 flights, flying 200,000 passengers. Reservations for the airline’s initial services opened earlier in December 2023, and although the first flight is due to take off on December 15, the carrier is reportedly yet to secure its commercial passenger services permit, although it is already certificated for Special Aviation Operations by the Uzbek civil aviation regulator.
Uzbek skies getting crowded
The timing of HUMO Air’s launch means its progress will be interesting to watch. The Uzbek aviation industry is becoming increasingly crowded in recent months. Flag carrier Uzbekistan Airways is by far the dominant market leader, with another newcomer in the form of Air Samarkand intending to launch charter and scheduled flights to destinations in Turkey, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China in the coming weeks.
Additionally, low-cost carrier Centrum Air, another low-cost carrier with the same model as HUMO Air, currently operates a fleet of three Airbus A320s serving domestic Uzbek destinations and plans to have a fleet of 100 aircraft by 2026. Like HUMO Air, it is also based at Tashkent International Airport (TAS) and also operates international services to a range of destinations in the Middle East and India.