Instead, atop the terminal building, there is simply an embossed shiny head; the profile of a middle-aged man in gold.
Turkmenistan has done its best to keep out journalists for the past decade, and has long been an unattainable dream for Moscow correspondents like myself.
But due, it seemed, to some kind of administrative error, they had let a few of us in, ostensibly to cover a tedious-sounding Investment Forum, and here I was stepping off the plane into one of the world's most isolated and bizarre countries.
The gold head was the first sighting of a man that would follow me around for the whole time I spent in Ashgabat.
And atop this, high in the air, a statue all in gold, of a middle-aged man with his arms outstretched above his head in a pose of religious ecstasy, like a maniacal preacher.