Air Astana relaunches Dubai-Almaty direct service

The flag carrier of Kazakhstan is a joint venture between the national’s wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and UK defence company BAE Systems, with respective shares of 51 per cent and 49 per cent.



By Abdul Basit – Chief Reporter

Published: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 11:01 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:39 PM

Dubai: Air Astana has expanded in the Middle East with the re-launch of Dubai-Almaty direct daily flights and its chief executive officer Peter Foster said the emirate is very important for the airline.

The flag carrier of Kazakhstan is a joint venture between the national’s wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and UK defence company BAE Systems, with respective shares of 51 per cent and 49 per cent.

“Dubai was our first international destination in 2002. It’s such an important commercial city,” Foster told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of a news conference in Dubai on Sunday.

The Dubai service was stopped in 2010 on an air traffic rights issue and the airline moved its operations to Abu Dhabi, according to the chief executive. Under the new agreement, around 2,000 seats per week are available but mostly enjoyed by UAE carriers — Etihad Airways with seven flights per week, Air Arabia with nine flights per week and flydubai with seven flights per week.

The airline operates 43 flights in 18 countries throughout Asia, Central Asia, the CIS, Caucasus, Europe and the Middle East. Its domestic network includes services to 12 cities.

Air Astana is buying more aircraft and launching new routes, Foster said. The carrier aims to grow its fleet to 45 planes in 2022 from 30 currently.

“We have 30 aircraft and we will two more in 2016. Then we will take 13 between 2017 and 2021,” he said, adding that the airline is considering Boeing 737 Max, Airbus A321 neo for a replacement of 11 aircraft.

Air Astana has been profitable since inception and has contributed greatly to the Kazakhstan’s economy, with payments to state budgets exceeding $300 million. The airline will continue profitable journey even this year despite oil hedging at higher price and a significant forex loss.

“Last year our net was $54 million and revenues $925 million. This year our net will be lower because of forex,” he explained. The airline can make profit at $100 but “I think prices somewhere around 90 is good for us and the country”. Kazakhstan is an oil-producing country and Air Astana buys 60 per cent of its fuel from the country. Its oil bill is around
$350 million.

— abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com


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