Saturday, May 22, 2010

Air Astana Expands Central Asia Hub In Almaty


Aviation Daily May 20 , 2010 , p. 14
Neelam Mathews

Kazakhstan-based Air Astana is expanding its central Asian hub in Almaty with new services planned to China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan

Three Embraer E-190s were selected last year to operate on Air Astana's expanding Central Asia network, with the first of three leased aircraft scheduled for delivery in early 2011. Airbus A320 family aircraft will operate these services in the interim.

Air Astana will launch services to Urumchi, in western China; Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, and Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, during the second half of 2010.

Regional services already operate from Almaty to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan and Novosibirsk in southern Russia. Additional new routes to other cities in southern Russia, including Omsk and Yekaterinburg are also under consideration.

"Services launched from Almaty to Central Asian destinations in 2008-09 have proved enormously popular with government, business and leisure travelers, and we are delighted to now start offering more destinations in China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Passengers traveling from Central Asian cities have the opportunity to conveniently connect to Air Astana's long-haul services from Almaty to major cites in Asia, Europe and the Middle East," said Peter Foster, president.

Air Astana achieved a record after-tax profit of $49 million on revenues of $546 million for full-year 2009, a gain of 176% from 2008 and a 34% increase from the previous best year of 2007. This was in spite of a revenue decline of 16%.

The airline started regular flight operations in May 2002 and currently operates a network that serves 21 domestic and 23 international destinations from its hubs in Almaty, Astana and Atyrau. Air Astana flies an all-western fleet of two Boeing 767s, four Boeing 757s, 10 Airbus A320 family aircraft and six Fokker 50s. Air Astana is a full member of the International Air Transport Association and the only airline in Kazakhstan with EASA Part 145 aircraft maintenance certification.

Air Astana is a joint venture between Kazakhstans JS Company Sovereign Wealth Fund SamrukKazyna (51%) and BAE Systems (49%).

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