Well, we gave it a good try, but it seems flying on the Ilyushin Il-114 simply wasn’t meant to be…
As our time in Uzbekistan draws to a close, Ben and I have wasted hours trying to find a way to fly on this rare Russian-made propeller aircraft. Sadly for us, every possible combination has been sold out.
We started with plans to fly to Nukus or Bukhara for day-trips: leave in the morning, return in the evening. All the morning flights, however, were sold out. We (foolishly) hoped space would re-open. Eventually we decided we would just do a direct evening turn in order to experience the Il-114 but by then it was too late. All flights were sold out on the 52-seat propellor plane.
For a country of over 32 million people, domestic air service is very limited. In looking at schedules, it appears that flights routinely sell out days in advance.
Last night we thought we got lucky: it appeared seats opened on the evening flight to Nukus. But literally moments later, the seats were gone–either booked or recalled.
Having flown on the TU-134 and TU-154 in the past, I am especially bummed not to be able to fly on the Il-144. As much as I have loved my time in Uzbekistan, the single-entry visa was 180EUR and it is unlikely I’ll return for another decade. Considering Uzbekistan Airways is the only commercial operators of the Il-114s, that is a real shame.
Maybe I’ll have to visit North Korea and fly the predecessor Il-14 instead…
top image: Andrew Dyubin / Wikimedia Commons