Air Astana looks to soar higher in Eurasian skies
3 September 2009
Air Astana, the flag carrier of the Republic of Kazakhstan, is celebrating its seventh anniversary with plans to significantly expand its Central Asia network to include more cities in southern Russia and other neighbouring countries.
The airline initiated this strategic programme with the recent launch of services from Almaty to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan and Urumqi in western China.
A fleet of new generation Embraer EM190 airliners have been selected to specifically operate on Air Astana’s expanding Central Asia network, with the first two leased aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2011. Airbus A320 Family aircraft will operate these services in the interim.
“Over the past seven years, Air Astana has established itself as the industry leader in the CIS/ Central Asia region, with an outstanding reputation for providing safe, reliable and comfortable air services on both its domestic network and long-haul routes to major cities in Europe, Middle East and Asia,” said Peter Foster, President of Air Astana. After detailed market analysis, we have identified enormous opportunities to expand further over next five years with a new network of services to neighbouring countries operated by a fleet of low cost, high comfort, Embraer EM190 aircraft.”
Despite challenging conditions in 2008, Air Astana continued to achieve growth and profitability, with available seat kilometers up by 16% to 7.5 billion compared to 2007. Passengers carried increased by 8% to 2.3 million. Almost 28,000 scheduled passenger flights were undertaken, with an average load factor of 64%. The fleet grew to 21 all western aircraft (2 Boeing 767 /4 Boeing 757 /10 Airbus A320 Family / 5 Fokker 50) during the year and will increase further to 28 aircraft by 2013.
In the field of operations, Air Astana successfully completed the IATA Operation Safety Audit in 2008 and also established an ab-intio pilot training scheme. Other achievements during the year were the opening of a new aircraft maintenance hangar in Almaty, the 100% implementation of electronic ticketing and the opening of a new reservations centre in Astana.
Air Astana is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s JS Company “Sovereign Wealth Fund SamrukKazyna” (51%) and BAE Systems (49%). The airline commenced regular flight operations in May 2002 and currently operates a network that serves 22 domestic and 21 international destinations from its hubs in Almaty, Astana and Atyrau. Air Astana is a full member of the International Air Transport Association and is the only airline in Kazakhstan with EASA Part 145 aircraft maintenance certification.