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Air Astana (Kazakh: Эйр Астана) is the flag carrier of the Republic of Kazakhstan, based in Almaty.[2] It operates scheduled, domestic and international services on 64 routes from its main hub, Almaty International Airport, and from its secondary hub, Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport. It is a joint venture between Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna (51%), and BAE Systems PLC (49%).[3] It was incorporated in October 2001 and started commercial flights on 15 May 2002.

Air Astana
Air Astana logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
KC KZR ASTANALINE
Founded29 August 2001 (2001-08-29)
Commenced operations15 May 2002 (2002-05-15)
Hubs
Frequent-flyer programNomad Club
SubsidiariesFlyArystan
Fleet size36
Destinations64
Company sloganFrom the Heart of Eurasia
Parent companySovereign Wealth Fund Samruk Kazyna (51%).
Other Shareholder: BAE Systems PLC (49%)
HeadquartersAlmaty, Kazakhstan
Key people
  • Kanat Alpysbayev,[1] Chairman
  • Peter Foster, President & CEO
WebsiteAirAstana.com

HistoryEdit

Air Astana was described by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation in January 2012 as having "performed better in its first decade than just about any other start-up carrier".[4] Yet its origins represent one of the more intriguing and unlikely stories to have emerged from the airline industry in recent times. Originally conceived as a purely domestic airline, BAE Systems agreed in mid-2001 to participate in the proposed start-up at the request of Kazakhstan's head of state, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in order to facilitate an air radar contract it was then negotiating with the Government of Kazakhstan. Sir Richard Evans, BAE System's chairman at the time, was instrumental in and key to the deal. However, the radar contract never materialised, and subsequent senior management changes and strategic reviews at BAE Systems led to the closure of its offices in Kazakhstan. Additionally, not withstanding the support of Nazarbayev and a number of close advisors, the start-up, initially seen as a foreign entity, was confronted with immediate and vocal opposition from many elements of Kazakhstan's media and political establishment.

2002–2005Edit

In spite of a lack of support, the airline took off on the charge. Under its first operational president, former British Airways executive Lloyd Paxton (there had been a brace of short-lived pre-operational incumbents), it leased its first 3 Boeing 737s from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) and commenced Commercial operations on 15 May 2002. In late 2003 Fokker 50s were leased from Aircraft Finance Trading BV (AFT) and 3 Boeing 757s from Pegasus Leasing Corp. It declared a net profit in 2003, its first full year of operations. Upon the bankruptcy of the previous flag carrier Air Kazakhstan in February 2004, it moved quickly to expand from its domestic network to key international routes to Dubai, Istanbul, Moscow and Beijing, followed by Frankfurt and London.

2005–presentEdit

Early growth pains and disagreements over fleet plans and hub strategy led to tensions between the shareholders and a management change in autumn 2005. Peter Foster, a former executive of Cathay Pacific Airways who had led the rehabilitation team at Philippine Airlines in 1999 before a spell as CEO at Royal Brunei Airlines, was appointed as the airline's president on 1 October 2005. Long-term development plans and management structures were established that have remained largely unchanged since then. The airline has been consistently profitable and was listed in the top 20 most profitable airlines in terms of net margin in the world for the years 2010, 2011, and 2012, according to Airline Business and Air Finance Journal, which ranked it 20th in its 2015 survey of global airline financial ratings, with a score of BBB-.[citation needed]

In an article on BAE Systems' offset programmes (10/10/13) the Financial Times stated, "BAE’s 49 per cent stake in Kazakhstan’s Air Astana became one of the company’s highest-yielding investments".[5]

Until 8 December 2016, Air Astana was the only Kazakh airline allowed to fly to the European Union.

Air Astana was the "Official Air Carrier of EXPO-2017"[6] and the official carrier and general partner of the 2017 Winter Universiade, which took place from 29 January to 8 February 2017 in Almaty.

Today, the Air Astana airline's fleet is the youngest in Europe and consists of 30 (as of July 2015) Western-made aircraft. As a result of the restructuring of the fleet and the replacement of all Airbus A320 and Boeing 767, the average age of the Air Astana fleet decreased to 6 years as of 2015. The company plans to expand its fleet up to 43 in 2020. In addition, the carrier plans to start flying to the United States with the arrival of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At the end of 2016, the company's fleet was replenished first in the post-Soviet countries of the Airbus A320neo (Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines).

In January 2018, the company adopted the first Airbus A321neo in the post-Soviet countries (Pratt & Whitney PW1000G-JM engines).

In June 2018, the fleet received a second Airbus A321neo.

In November 2018, the airline announced that it plans to launch its own low-cost airline, called FlyArystan.[7]

In December 2018, the airline's fleet was replenished with Embraer 190-E2 – first in the post-Soviet countries.

OperationsEdit

Activity in RussiaEdit

In September 2002 the airline launched flights between Nur-Sultan and Moscow with a frequency of 3 times a week and daily flights between Almaty and Moscow performed by Boeing 737-700. In 2014, the number of weekly services on the Nur-SultanMoscow route was increased up to 9 flights a week, and Almaty – Moscow flights up to 14. The airline operates 54 weekly services on 11 routes to Russia: Almaty – Moscow performed by Airbus A321 and Boeing 767, Nur-Sultan – Moscow, Almaty – St.Petersburg performed by Airbus A320 and Nur-Sultan – Novosibirsk, Nur-Sultan – Yekaterinburg, Nur-Sultan – Omsk, Nur-Sultan – St.Petersburg, Almaty – Kazan, and Almaty – Samara performed by Embraer 190.

Air Astana is represented in Russian Federation in Moscow city on Bolshoi Gnezdnikovskii pereulok 1, building 2 (Tverskaya metro station). There is also a ticket office at the Sheremetyevo airport (Terminal E).

Activity in the rest of C.I.S.Edit

Air Astana has built on its geographical strength by expanding its network to cover all key cities of the region with short haul flights. In Central Asia and the Caucasus, Air Astana offers services to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Baku (Azerbaijan), Tbilisi (Georgia) both from Almaty and Nur-Sultan. Services to Dushanbe (Tajikistan) are currently performed from Almaty and will be extended from Nur-Sultan starting IATA Summer 2016 navigation season. Air Astana closed its last gap in the region in 2013 by launching services to Kiev (Ukraine) from Almaty with 3 flights per week. Since the launch of services, Air Astana has rapidly become a key provider for air transport to Central Asia and Far Eastern destinations from Ukraine.[citation needed] The extensive regional network provides for access to all major cities in the region with Air Astana's medium and long haul flights from Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Istanbul, Frankfurt, London and others.

Activity in ChinaEdit

Kazakhstan neighbors China through its South East border with a flight time of less than one and a half hours to Ürümqi and under five hours to Beijing. The close vicinity of Air Astana's hubs allows for competitive regional operations to China. The fact that not a single European carrier is operating to Ürümqi, provides a strong competitive edge for Air Astana. The Western hub of China is served both from Almaty and Nur-Sultan with 11 services per week, offering connectivity to its entire CIS network as well as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Delhi, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Paris and others. The daily services to Beijing connect with the entire CIS network as well as European network such as Frankfurt, Istanbul and particularly London.

ICAO and the EUEdit

The airline's international route development was heavily influenced by regulatory factors from 2009 until April 2014. In April 2009, an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), found the Kazakhstan Civil Aviation Committee (CAC) to be non-compliant in key areas of regulatory oversight. This resulted in, with the exception of Air Astana, a blanket ban of all Kazakhstan-registered airlines from flying to, from or within the European Union by the EU's Air Safety Committee (ASC), until the ban was lifted on 8 December 2016. Air Astana was exempted from the ban "...taking into account oral and written presentations made...." particularly the registration of its aircraft with the Department of Civil Aviation of Aruba, a Netherlands dependent territory, and its operations safety management programme as presented to the ASC. However, it was included on the ASC's Annex B, restricting its EU operations to the level of frequencies and fleet operated at the time of imposition of the ban in July 2009. The ASC removed the fleet restriction in November 2012 for the Boeing and Airbus fleet based on the airline's fleet renewal programme but retained the restriction on Embraer aircraft. On 10 April 2014 the ASC lifted the frequency restrictions based on the airline's safety performance, including Safety Audit of Foreign Airlines (SAFA) monitoring programme results, as well as continuing transparent communications. This allowed the airline to start planning for new destinations in Europe and increases to its daily service to Frankfurt from Nur-Sultan, its 6 weekly service to Amsterdam from Atyrau, and its 4 weekly services to London. The airline subsequently commenced service between Nur-Sultan and Paris in April 2015. The restrictions on the Embraer aircraft, which were the last to be banned from the EU, were removed in December 2015, and all Air Astana aircraft are now allowed to enter EU airspace.[8]

DestinationsEdit

Air Astana's 64 routes include most of the major cities in Kazakhstan and an increasing number of neighboring Central Asian and Russian cities. The latter is the result of a decision to implement what its managers refer to as an "extended home-market strategy", to leverage its reputation for high standards of service and air safety compliance in the region's growing air transport markets. Since 2009 it has launched services to Baku, Tashkent, Ürümqi, Tbilisi, Dushanbe, Bishkek, Novosibirsk, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Saint Petersburg, and from the middle of 2012 – Kazan and Omsk. Routes from Almaty and Nur-Sultan to Kiev were launched in spring 2013.

Its long haul growth has been towards south and east Asia, with flights to Delhi, Seoul (operated in code share with Asiana Airlines), Beijing, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong (28 August 2012) and Ho Chi Minh City (January 2013). In addition to its existing Almaty-Seoul services, Air Astana launched service from Nur-Sultan to Seoul in June 2015. Air Astana operates daily services from Nur-Sultan to Frankfurt, three weekly services to Heathrow and three weekly services to Paris (launched 29 March 2015). The European services are connected with Air Astana's extensive domestic services as well as regional services in South Russia, Central Asia and China. The airline launched a non-stop flight from Almaty to Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran (30 June 2016).

Codeshare agreementsEdit

Air Astana has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[9]

FleetEdit

Current fleetEdit

 
Air Astana Airbus A320-200

The Air Astana fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of August 2018.):[16]

Air Astana Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A320-200 6 16 132 148 Air Astana handed over two airplanes to its subsidiary airline FlyArystan.[17]
Airbus A320neo 4 2[18][19] 16 132 148 Deliveries since late 2016[20]
Airbus A321-200 4 28 151 179
Airbus A321LR 4[18][21] 28 151 179 Deliveries from 2020[22]
Airbus A321neo 3 8[18] 28 151 179
Boeing 757-200 4 16 150 166 To be replaced by Airbus A321neo from 2019[20]
Boeing 767-300ER 3 30 193 223
Boeing 787-8 3
TBA
To be delivered after 2023[23]
Embraer 190 8 9 88 97 To be replaced by Embraer 190-E2 from 2019[20]
Embraer 190-E2 4[24] 1 12 96 108 To be delivered from 2018[25]
Total 36 21

Fleet historyEdit

Air Astana's fleet history:[26]

Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A319-100 1 2008 2018
Boeing 737-700 2 2002 2007
Boeing 737-800 1 2002 2007
Boeing 757-200 1 2011 2019 P4-KCU
Embraer 190 1 2011 2019 P4-KCC
Fokker 50 6 2004 2013

Service and brandingEdit

During the ATW's 41st Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards ceremony in Washington, DC on 25 February 2015 Air Astana was awarded the Airline Market Leader of the Year.[27]

Class typesEdit

Air Astana operates a 2 class service, Business and Economy, on all aircraft, and Economy Sleeper on its Boeing 757 fleet. The Boeing 767 and 757, as well as newer Airbus A321neo are equipped with the individual in-flight entertainment system supplied by RAVE in both cabins. On other aircraft it offers hand-held personal entertainment systems (「KCTV」) in the business class of all flights longer than 3 hours. Hot meals and alcoholic beverages are offered on all flights in Business, Economy, and Economy Sleeper.

New productsEdit

In February 2015, Air Astana started offering a new class type: the Economy Sleeper. Passengers of the Economy Sleeper Class get a row of three Economy Class seats, turn-down service, Business Class amenity kits and KCTV, along with various perks at the airport, including access to Business Class lounges. The new product is currently featured exclusively on the Boeing 757-200 on routes from Nur-Sultan to London, Frankfurt and Paris, and from Almaty to Hong Kong.[28]

Nomad ClubEdit

The Nomad Club frequent flyer program consists of Diamond, Gold, Silver and Blue membership tiers, and has reciprocal agreements with Lufthansa's Miles & More and Asiana Airline's "Asiana Club" programs.

Shanyrak LoungeEdit

Air Astana has recently opened its lounge "The Shanyrak", the only airline lounge at the Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport. It is named after the central piece (the "crown") in the roof of a Kazakh yurt.

PersonnelEdit

Air Astana numbers more than 4,700 people. Despite the fact that the company directly hires staff for international offices, most of the employees are citizens of Kazakhstan. It employs over 500 pilots, about a third of whom are non-Kazakhstan nationals recruited principally in Europe. In 2012 company has introduced a general management training program at Cranfield University, England. The airline's cabin crew consists of over 1,100 flight attendants (Kazakhstani nationals); most of them are women. Its management is a combination of Kazakhstan and foreign nationals.

Activity indicatorsEdit

Number of passengers transported:[29]

  • 2006 – 1.5 million
  • 2007 – 2.1 million
  • 2008 – 2.3 million
  • 2009 – 2.2 million
  • 2010 – 2.6 million
  • 2011 – 3 million
  • 2012 – 3.3 million
  • 2013 – 3.7 million
  • 2014 – 3.8 million
  • 2015 – 3.9 million
  • 2016 – 3.7 million
  • 2017 – 4.2 million

AwardsEdit

  • Skytrax 4 Star Airline, 2010 to present.[30]
  • Skytrax World Airline Awards, Best Airline Central Asia and India, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.[31]
  • Skytrax World Airline Awards, Best Staff Service Central Asia and India, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.[32]
  • Air Transport World Industry Awards, Global Market Leadership Award, 2015.[33]
  • UK New Year's Honours List 2015, Peter Foster appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to British aviation in Kazakhstan.[34]
  • Tripadvisor 2018 Travelers' Choice Awards, Best Regional Airline.[1][2]
  • Five Star Airline Rating in the Major Regional Airlines category at the APEX Awards 2018 [3]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://airastana.com/kaz/en-us/About-Us/Corporate-Profile/Board-of-Directors
  2. ^ "Head Office". airastana.com. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  3. ^ Hofmann, Kurt (11 April 2014). "Air Astana eyes Paris and Prague services after EU lifts safety ban". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 11 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Air Astana traffic up over 160% since 2006". anna.aero. 19 July 2016. Archived from the original on 10 June 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Offset side deals spark calls for transparency". Financial Times. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Astana Expo 2017 has an official air carrier". www.eturbonews.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  7. ^ Nick Wenzel (7 November 2018). "Air Astana to launch low-cost airline". International Flight Network.
  8. ^ "European Commission clears Air Astana and adds Iraqi Airways to EU air safety list | CAPA - Centre for Aviation". centreforaviation.com. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Profile on Air Astana". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 2 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Cathay Pacific and Air Astana Announce Codeshare Agreement". aviationtribune.com. Aviation Tribune OÜ. 5 March 2018. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  11. ^ Liu, Jim (19 March 2018). "KLM / Air Astana expands codeshare service from late-March 2018". Routesonline. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  12. ^ Liu, Jim (23 April 2019). "Air Astana expands KLM Europe codeshare to Madrid from April 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Air Astana and Lufthansa Sign Codeshare Agreement | AviationPros.com". AviationPros.com. 15 March 2017. Archived from the original on 17 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  14. ^ Liu, Jim (15 July 2019). "Air Astana / S7 Airlines begins codeshare partnership from July 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  15. ^ Liu, Jim (15 June 2019). "Ukraine International / Air Astana begins codeshare partnership from June 2019". Routesonline. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part One)". Airliner World (October 2017): 18.
  17. ^ https://simpleflying.com/fly-arystan-commences-operations/
  18. ^ a b c ch-aviation.com – Kazakhstan's Air Astana to lease six A320neo Family jets Archived 16 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine 16 June 2015
  19. ^ "Kazakhstan's Air Astana to lease three A320neo from SMBC". ch-aviation.com. Archived from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  20. ^ a b c flightglobal.com – PARIS: Air Astana takes long-range A321neo to replace 757s Archived 17 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine 16 June 2015
  21. ^ "Air Astana Destined to Become One of the Largest Airbus A320neo Family Operators in Central Asia and CIS". aviationpros.com. 7 December 2017.
  22. ^ David Kaminski Morrow (5 October 2018). "Arkia to replace Primera as A321LR launch operator". Flightglobal.
  23. ^ "Air Astana to delay 787 deliveries: CEO". Flightglobal.com. 27 June 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  24. ^ "Kazakhstan's Air Astana adds inaugural E190-E2". ch-aviation.com. 3 December 2018.
  25. ^ "AerCap confirms the placement of five Embraer E190-E2s with Air Astana". worldairlinenews.com. 1 August 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Air Astana Fleet – Airfleets aviation". airfleets.net. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013.
  27. ^ "Air Transport leaders celebrated at ATW Achievement Awards". Air Transport World. 26 February 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015.
  28. ^ "Air Astana Introduces Economy Sleeper": New Economic Business Class Concept". >talkairlines. >talkairlines. 29 January 2015. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Annual Reports". airastana.com. Archived from the original on 26 December 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  30. ^ "A-Z Airline Quality Rating". SKYTRAX. Archived from the original on 26 January 2015.
  31. ^ "A-Z Airline Awards Winners 2018 SKYTRAX". www.worldairlineawards.com.
  32. ^ "The Best Airline Staff in the World by Region in 2017". www.worldairlineawards.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  33. ^ "ATW's 41st Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards". atwonline.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  34. ^ "Diplomatic and Overseas Honours List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Air Astana at Wikimedia Commons