Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines started flights from Istanbul to the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Friday, according to a company announcement.
"Samarkand, part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list, has been added to the flight network as the 302nd destination of Turkish Airlines," the flag carrier said.
"Samarkand, founded on the Silk Road and for centuries one of international trade's most important transportation hubs, has become Turkish Airlines' second destination in Uzbekistan after the capital city Tashkent," it said.
In a speech at the opening ceremony held at Samarkand Airport, Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Ekşi hailed the new destination as "one of the most important cities in our civilization."
"This pearl of a city - featuring madrasahs, mosques, museums, tombs and architectural masterpieces - will quickly make progress in tourism," he said. "Also we are glad to serve this city, the eternal resting place for so many historical figures and scholars."
"We are proud to strengthen ties between our two sister countries by operating our flights since 1992," he added, mentioning the flights to Tashkent seven times a week.
The airline announced that Istanbul-Samarkand flights will be offered twice a week in both directions.
Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, currently has nearly 330 aircraft, including passenger and cargo planes, and flies to more than 300 destinations worldwide. Last year it carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate.
As of market close on Thursday, March 15, the airline's market value was around TL 25 billion ($6.5 billion).
The airline was named Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax for six years in a row between 2011 and 2016 and chosen the Best Airline in Southern Europe for the ninth consecutive time in 2017.