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FORMED IN 2001 AND STARTED OPERATIONS IN 2002. REGIONAL, DOMESTIC & INTERNATIONAL, PASSENGER AND CARGO, JET AIRPLANE SERVICES.
AIR ASTANA CENTRE 1
4A ZAKARPATSKAYA STREET
ALMATY, 050039, KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan (Republic of Kazakhstan) was established in 1991, covers an area of 2,717,300 sq km, its population is 19 million, and its political capital city is Astana. However, its commercial capital is Almaty. The official language is Kazak.
Kazakhstan, located between Russia and China, is a vast and boundless nation with unlimited natural resources and potential. It is the world's 9th largest country in size, and the largest of the Central Asia states of the former USSR; it is equivalent to the size of Western Europe. Kazakhstan holds about 4 billion tons of proven recoverable oil reserves. The Gross National Product (GNP) is expected to triple by 2015.
KAZAKHSTAN IS BIGGER THAN WESTERN EUROPE, BUT ONLY HAS 19 MILLION POPULATION. IT HAS LARGER OIL RESERVES THAN SAUDI ARABIA, & GOLD, IRON ORE, AND URANIUM. ALMATY, IS THE ORIGINAL CAPITAL, BUT THE NEW CAPITAL IS ASTANA (AQMOLA) IN CENTRAL KAZAKHSTAN. ALMATY REMAINS THE ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL CENTER. ALMATY WAS FORMERLY KNOWN AS ALMA ATA.
MAY 2002: Started service Almaty to Astana (737-800).
2 737-7Q8'S (30629; 42) & 1 737-8Q8 (30627), ex-Sun Country Airlines (SCA), (ILF) 5 year leased. Airplanes have a white fuselage with "air-astana.kz" and a dark blue tail.
August 2002: Almaty to Dubai (2x-weekly). Operations & Engineering, at Amaty:
September 2002: Takes over Almaty to Moscow route from Air Kazakhstan (KAZ).
December 2002: Almaty to Beijing (2x-weekly).
Systemwide 65% LF (Load Factor).
March 2003: 350 employees. SITA: ALASP4L.
Main Base: Almaty (Alma-Ata) airport (ALA).
Parent organization/shareholders: B Ae Systems (50%); & Kazakhstan govt (50%).
October 2003: 757-2G5 (29488, P4-EAS), (LTU) leased.
November 2003: In December 2003, Atyrau to Amsterdam (2x-weekly).
December 2003: Almaty to London Heathrow (LHR) (757, 2x-weekly). Almaty to Seoul (Incheon) (757, 2x-weekly). Astana to Frankfurt (757, weekly). Almaty to Amsterdam (757, 2x-weekly). Almaty to Uralsk to Amsterdam (757, weekly).
2 757-2G5's (29489, P4-FAS; 28112, GAS), ex-(LTU) leased.
January 2004: 2003 = +KZT 478.2 million/+$3.2 million (net profit) (-KZT 769 million): 387,470 passengers (PAX) (+139%).
Plans to lease a 3rd 757-200 in 2004, and add 23 new domestic & 11 international routes this summer.
March 2004: Air Kazakhstan (KAZ) filed for bankruptcy. Since December 2003, it has suspended many routes and announced the sale of assets in Pavlodar and Ust'-Kamenogorsk. All route authorities have been transferred to Air Astana (AKZ), although the company lacks the equipment to serve them. The final (KAZ) service was at end of February 2004, Pavlodar to Kostanai to Hannover rotation.
May 2004: F 50 (20188, P4-IAS), delivery.
December 2004: 730 employees.
757-225 (22689, TC-OGB), AtlasJet International Airways (ABE) wet-leased.
May 2005: 967 employees (including 145 Flight Crew (FC); 282 Cabin Crew (282); & 119 Maintenance Technicians (MT)).
October 2005: Peter Foster, President.
December 2005: Air Astana (AKZ) suspended service from Almaty to Istanbul after a Turkish court ordered to detain all arriving Kazakh planes to ensure repayment of a Kazakh government debt. (AKZ) operates 3x-weekly flights, on Mondays, Thursdays & Saturdays, using a 737-800.
February 2006: A320-232 (2128, P4-PAS), (CIT) Group (TCI) leased.
March 2006: Air Astana (AKZ) leased a used 757-200ER (28833) from (International Lease Finance Corporation) (ILFC) (ILF) for 5 years. The airplane is scheduled for delivery in April 2006.
April 2006: Air Astana (AKZ) inaugurated nonstop service from Astana to Karaganda. (AKZ) now operates 5x-weekly on Mondays & Thursdays with an A320 and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Saturdays with a Fokker F 50. (AKZ) will increase the frequency of its Atyrau to Amsterdam route from 3x- to 4x-weekly from June 20th. Departures from Atyrau are on Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays with a 4th weekly flight to be added on Tuesdays; departures from Amsterdam are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays with a 4th weekly flight to be added on Fridays. All flights are operated with a 757-200.
1 757-200, ex-Xinjiang (XIJ), (ILF) 5 year leased.
June 2006: Air Astana (AKZ) of Kazakhstan opened a sales and marketing office in London. Richard Ledger was appointed Regional General Manager Europe, USA and Canada.
Began Atyrau to Istanbul with a 757-200, 12C, 188Y. Increased Almaty to Istanbul from 3x- to 4x-weekly. Code share with AtlasJet (ABE) to continue on to 18 other cities in Turkey.
July 2006: As the national carrier of Kazakhstan, Air Astana (AKZ) provides domestic and international, passenger, jet airplane services within Asia, and westwards to Europe.
Employees = 994.
(IATA) Code: 4L - 465. (ICAO) Code: KZR - (Callsign - ASTANALINE).
Parent organization shareholders: Kazakhstan government (51%) & (BAE) Systems (49%).
Main Base: Almaty (Alma-Ata) Airport (ALA).
Hub: Astana airport (TSE).
Domestic, Scheduled Destinations: Aktau; Aktyubinsk; Almaty; Astana; Atyrau; Dzhambyl; Karaganda; Kostanay; Kzyl-Orda; Pavlodar; Petropavlovsk; Semipalatinsk; Shimkent; Uralsk; Ust-Kamenogorsk; & Zhezkazgan.
International, Scheduled Destinations: Amsterdam; Bangkok; Beijing; Delhi; Dubai; Frankfurt; Hanover; Istanbul; London; Moscow; & Seoul.
The Boeing (TBC) New Generation 737 is the newest and most technologically advanced airplane in the single aisle airplane market. Fitted with a new wing and more powerful (CFM56) engines, the new 737s can fly higher, faster, and farther than previous 737 models as well as other competing airplane models. The (AKZ) 737s are fitted with 8 channels of Audio in flight entertainment offering passengers a selection of music to suit all tastes.
The (TBC) 757-200 incorporates advanced technology for exceptional fuel efficiency, low noise levels, increased passenger comfort, and top operating performance. It can fly both long and short range routes and is powered by 2 very powerful and reliable Rolls-Royce (RRC) (RB211) jet engines. The (AKZ) 757s are fitted with both video and audio in-flight entertainment systems. There are the latest Movie releases, Comedies, and Documentaries in a choice of both Russian and English languages, and eight channels of audio entertainment to choose from. The in-flight entertainment selection is updated on a regular basis.
The A320 is a safe and reliable airplane. (AKZ) is the 1st airline to use the airplane in Kazakhstan and seeks to positively influence the standards of civil aviation in Kazakhstan. The A320 airplane has an excellent reputation among both passengers and airlines around the world. Different versions of the plane are in use on every continent. The airplanes are very environmentally friendly (they have the lowest fuel burn, level of emissions and noise footprint of their class. With the addition of the A320 to its fleet, (AKZ) is increasing the frequency of operated domestic routes and utilizing jet airplanes on some domestic flights in place of Fokker F 50’s).
The Fokker F 50 is a twin turbo-propeller powered airplane offering a quiet comfortable passenger cabin. The (AKZ) F 50 operates on domestic routes within Kazakhstan, connecting Regional centers with the cities of Astana and Almaty, as well as providing feeder services connecting with (AKZ) international and domestic trunk network.
(AKZ) took delivery of its 1st leased A320, which it said is the 1st step in a "major fleet modernization program" that will see it expand its fleet to 34 Western airplanes by 2014. (AKZ) will take another 4 A320s this year and purchase 6 additional airplanes by 2011, including 3 wide bodies in 2008. (AKZ) also operates 3 737NGs, 4 757-200s and 5 F 50s. It expects to carry 1.4 million passengers this year, up +16.7% from 2005, and 2.3 million in 2007. It is owned by the government of Kazakhstan (51%) and (BAE) Systems (49%).
August 2006: A320-232 (2828, P4-TAS), AerCap (DEA) leased.
October 2006: Air Astana (AKZ) changed its (IATA) (ITA) flight code to KC from 4L, a shift it said was "the latest development in (AKZ)'s rapid growth road to becoming a world class airline." KC stands for Kazakhstan Carrier. Launched in 2002, the airline operates 15 airplanes to 24 domestic and 17 international destinations.
December 2006: Air Astana (AKZ) will add a 3rd weekly 757-200 Almaty to London Heathrow flight from January 25.
A320-232 (2987, P4-UAS), Boullioun (BOU) leased.
February 2007: 1st of 2 Air Astana (AKZ)'s A321s (N104AQ) delivery - see photo. 1st of 2 767-306ERs (27612, P4-KCA), ex-(KLM), was (PH-BZI), (ILF) leased - see photo.
April 2007: Aviareps will represent French startup L'Avion (LVI) in the USA and Air Astana (AKZ) in Italy.
May 2007: Air Astana (AKZ) celebrated its 5th anniversary with the delivery of its 2nd 767-306ER (27614, P4-KCB), ex-(KLM). Its fleet also includes 4 757s, 2 A321s, 5 A320s and 5 F 50s. The 767s are operated on routes to Amsterdam, Beijing, Bangkok, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hannover and Seoul as well as on domestic trunk routes from Almaty to Astana and Atyrau.
A320-214 (3131, P4-VAS), Boullioun (BOU) leased.
June 2007: Air Astana (AKZ), enjoyed a +60% lift in passengers last year to 2 million, that (CEO) Peter Foster joked had "absolutely" nothing to do with the success of the film "Borat." Talking from Almaty, Foster said (AKZ) is expanding rapidly and evaluating both the A350 XWB and 787 to replace its 757s and 767s from 2011. It currently operates 18 airplanes. The key to its success has been the country's mineral boom.
(AKZ) took delivery of its 7th A320/A321, with an additional 3 A320s and 1 A319 due next year. Foster also wants to lease more 767s ahead of 787/A350 deliveries. "The 767 is robust and perfect for us, and can reach all our destinations with a full payload," he said. (AKZ) operates 25 domestic and 18 international routes, and is adding more frequencies and destinations in Russia. The business mix is 65% domestic and 35% international, with transit traffic accounting for a surprising 15%. Foster said the airline is developing as a high-quality niche operator, linking numerous mineral centers in Kazakhstan and beyond. For example, it is planning to start flying to oil-rich Sakhalin Island, off Russia's east coast.
July 2007: Austrian Airlines (AUL) will start 3x-weekly Vienna (VIE) - Astana service on September 4 aboard a 737-700 and will code share with Air Astana (AKZ). The Kazakhstan capital will become (AAG)'s 46th Eastern destination. (AUL) has permits to fly to seven Russian destinations and already serves 5 - - Tyumen and Voronezh are the others. For the winter schedule, it will launch a new service from Innsbruck to St Petersburg and add flights to Moscow Domodedovo. Recently, it added a 4th weekly frequency to its (VIE) - Erbil service.
Kazakhstan is making a strong effort to develop its major airports in Almaty and Astana into strategic hubs for traffic between Europe and the Far East. "Our country is currently at an important stage for developing [aviation hubs], especially because leading carriers like Lufthansa (DLH), (KLM) and Air France (AFA) are already here," Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kairat Abdrakhmanov said in Vienna. "We will and we have to compete with the other [hubs], so we must provide good service. I believe that our [passenger] growth rate is >20% annually."
Traffic rights into the country will be made available, if there is sufficient interest, and while Abdrakhmanov would not reveal if either Almaty or Astana was higher on the priority list, he did say that a second runway would be built at the former. A major role will be played by (AKZ), which is owned 51% by the state and 49% by (BAE) Systems. "This is a joint project which was started in 2000, and now (AKZ) is growing rapidly," he added.
August 2007: Air Astana (AKZ) carried 970,000 passengers in the 1st half of 2007, up +42% over the year-ago semester. It expects to carry >2 million passengers for the full year. 1st-half capacity increased +44% to 3.1 billion (ASK)s as the fleet grew to 18 airplanes with the delivery of 2 767-300ERs, 2 A320s and 2 A321s. (AKZ) said its fleet will number 34 by 2014.
Lufthansa (DLH) and (AKZ) signed a cooperation agreement in the Kazakh capital, that will include code sharing and schedule coordination beginning next year and a linking of the carriers' loyalty programs, that may begin as early as October. The deal is similar to the one (DLH) signed with Russia's AirUnion (ZXD)/(DOD)/(SMR)/(OMK) last month. (DLH) operates a daily Frankfurt - Almaty service with 2x-weekly ongoing service to Astana. (DLH) Cargo (LUB) uses Astana as a hub for flights between Europe and Asia, operating 49x-weekly through the airport.
November 2007: Alpha Aviation Group (AAG) said it will enter formal negotiations with the Kazakhstan government to create an academy in the country serving Air Astana (AKZ) and other (CIS) airlines. It would open in the 2nd half of next year.
December 2007: Air Astana (AKZ) ordered 3/3 787-8 Dreamliners and 6/3 A320s for a combined list price of $950 million. Deliveries will start in 2012. (AKZ) leases 18 jets and plans to boost its fleet to 63 airplanes by 2022.
February 2008: Air Astana (AKZ) said it enjoyed record growth in 2007 as revenue rose +48% year-over-year, passenger numbers increased +46% to 2.1 million, and capacity climbed +42% to 6.5 billion (ASK)s. It took delivery of 2 767-300ERs, 2 A320s and 2 A321s, lifting its fleet to 18 airplanes. Late last year, (AKZ) placed firm orders for 3 787-8s and 6 A320s. (AKZ) anticipates operating a fleet of 63 by 2022, and currently serves 25 domestic and 21 international destinations.
A320-232 (3484, P9-WAS), (ILF) leased.
June 2008: Air Astana (AKZ) President Peter Foster said that the carrier is well positioned to weather the current economic environment, insisting that conditions in Central Asia will remain strong. "It is important to know that the aviation crisis is split Europe/North America, and maybe India [on one side], and Asia on the other side," he explained. He believes that demand for the Central Asian niche carrier is still strong, even with fuel prices +38% over budget. Fuel surcharges and increasing yield throughout the network are offsetting the rising costs. "We see no effect at the moment for us," he insisted.
(AKZ) transported 2.2 million passengers last year, and expects that number to rise to 2.55 million for 2008. Its strongest markets are Dubai, Istanbul, Bangkok, and Frankfurt. Foster said it is shying away from low-yield Europe-Asia transfer traffic. "We committed to the region (the (CIS))," he said. "We may look to Hong Kong as a new market, but it is not a good time now to open new long-haul routes."
The (AKZ) brand is still not well known in the Western hemisphere. "People are surprised when they fly with us and see the quality," he said. Its international route market share in its home country has increased from 20% two years ago to 40% today.
(AKZ) has 3 787s on order plus 6 options. 1st delivery originally was scheduled for 2016, but it is in talks with Boeing (TBC) regarding an alternative schedule, owing to 787 Dreamliner program delays. Its airplane fleet of 20 currently includes 757s, 767s, A320s/A321s and F 50s. Its 1st A319 will be delivered in August. It has 6 additional A320 family airplanes on firm order.
While Foster said the airline is "not in a hurry" to join an alliance, "we have excellent relationships with the Star Alliance (SAL) partners, especially Lufthansa (DLH)." (AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between the Kazakhstan government and B AE Systems, with 51% owned by the government. It launched in May 2002.
(AKZ) signed its firm order for 6 A320s, finalizing a Memo of Understanding (MOU) reached last December. Airplanes will seat up to 148 passengers in a 2-class layout.
September 2008: Air Astana (AKZ) said it continued to experience strong growth during the 1st half of 2008, recording a +16% year-over-year increase in passengers carried to 1.3 million. The carrier expects to carry 2.4 million for the full year. 1st-half revenue lifted +26% to $312 million.
February 2009: Air Astana (AKZ) transported 2.8 million passengers in 2008, up +8% from the prior year, on a +16% increase in capacity to 7.5 billion (ASK)s. Load factor was 64% LF. It took delivery of 3 A320s last year, raising its fleet to 21 (3 767s, 4 757s, 2 A321s, 7 A320s, 1 A319 and 5 F 50s). It plans to operate 34 airplanes in 2014 and 63 by 2022.
(AKZ) has an ab-initio pilot (FC) training scheme to help meet its long-term (FC) requirements. Upon completion of a 3 month evaluation program, the first group of 8 local trainee pilots (FC) are due to start a one-year flight training course in the USA in early 2009. The newly qualified pilots (FC) then return to (AKZ) as First Officers (FC) in 2010.
March 2009: Air Astana (AKZ) carried 2.3 million passengers in 2008, up +8% on the prior year, at a 64% LF load factor. Capacity rose +16% to 7.5 billion (ASK)s, the Kazakh flag carrier said. It took delivery of 3 A320 family airplanes last year, bringing its fleet to 21 planes. It confirmed orders for an additional 6 A320s and plans to be operating 34 airplanes by 2015. It currently flies 2 767s, 4 757s, 1 A319, 2 A321s, 7 A320s and 5 F 50s to 25 domestic and 21 international destinations.
See attached news regarding government assistance - - "AKZ-NEWS-2009-03-A."
April 2009: Air Astana (AKZ) launched 2x-weekly, Almaty - Baku flights aboard an A320.
May 2009: Air Astana (AKZ) confirmed plans to expand significantly its Central Asia network including more cities in southern Russia and neighboring countries. 2 leased E190s scheduled for delivery in early 2011 will enable growth, President, Peter Foster said, adding, "We identified enormous opportunities to expand further over the next 5 years with a new network." (AKZ) currently operates to 22 domestic and 21 international destinations from its hubs in Almaty, Astana, and Atyrau.
July 2009: Air Astana (AKZ) launched a 3x-weekly, Astana - Novosibirsk service using F 50s operated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The new route is part of (AKZ)'s strategic plan to significantly expand its Central Asia network, which has already seen the introduction of new services between Almaty to Baku, Bishkek and Urumqi. Additional new routes to other cities in southern Russia including Omsk and Yekatenburg are being considered. “Kazakhstan maintains strong relations with Russia, with (AKZ)’s new flight to Novosibirsk offering to further boost the development of business, economic and cultural relations between the capital of Kazakhstan and this Siberian federal district,” remarked Peter Foster President of (AKZ). “From 2011, regional services to Russia and other neighboring Central Asia cities will be operated by a new fleet of Embraer E190s.”
October 2009: Air Astana (AKZ) is expecting a record profit this year, surpassing the +$35 million earned in 2007, thanks to cost-cutting measures implemented before the global economic crisis hit both the airline and Kazakhstan last autumn. "(AKZ) was very affected. Our traffic collapsed. But all this happened during a time when (AKZ)'s cost-cutting program already was in progress," President Peter Foster said. (AKZ) cut capacity by -33% compared to 2008 and it faces a -15% decline in revenue. Business class (C) passenger numbers have fallen -11%, with an overall decline of -6% expected this year. (AKZ) expects no hedging losses, however, and Foster said its net margin in 2009 "is >10%."
(AKZ) operates in a unique environment, a huge country with just 16 million people. "In this area, seven frequencies per week is a lot," VP Marketing & Sales Ibrahim Canliel said. (AKZ) uses Almaty as its long-haul hub and Astana, the capital, as a hub for domestic flights and service to neighboring countries. (AKZ) has no plans to compete on overcrowded routes between Europe and East Asia and intends to focus on Central Asia, which has 60 million potential customers, according to Canliel. Routes to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, and secondary markets in Russia are in the planning stages. "That's why we are not in a rush to join an alliance. Our market is very special," Canliel said. 60% of (AKZ)'s business is international.
Foster warned that there are no signs of revenue recovery in 2010 and he said (AKZ) is counting on its partnership with Lufthansa (DLH) to enhance its European presence. "We have always had a cautious approach to growth and we are sticking to our formula," he said. Once it makes a decision on the composition of its future long-haul fleet, it will consider flying to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. "That is far ahead. USA destinations are not out of the question in the future either," he said.
(AKZ) will launch weekly service between Almaty and Kuala Lumpur October 31 aboard a 767.
Jetscape announced the placement of 2 E190LRs with (AKZ), which will take delivery in March and April 2011. (AKZ) President Peter Foster said (AKZ) "expect[s] to expand our E190 fleet in the future."
(AKZ) President, Peter Foster said that the carrier's Memo of Understanding (MOU) with Boeing (TBC) for 3 787s plus 3 options is "inactive" and that it is searching for alternative fleet solutions. Speaking in Almaty, Foster said, "There is very little clarity on delivery dates," for the 787. The (MOU) was signed in 2007 and delivery originally was scheduled for 2014 to 2015. (AKZ) now estimates that its 1st 787 Dreamliner could arrive as late as 2019.
"We need a decision quickly" on the future of (AKZ)'s long-haul fleet, Foster said. Leases on 2 767-300ERs will expire by 2012 and (AKZ) will have to determine whether it wants to stay with the (TBC) product or opt for the A330-200. Meanwhile, its 4 757-200s fit nicely into the network. "Many of our routes are very thin [in terms of loads]," he said. (AKZ) just renewed its 757 leases and is "very likely" to add to that fleet.
It will take delivery of 2 E190LRs leased from Jetscape in 2011 and plans to operate 6 by 2014. "We realized that E190 jets could not replace turboprops completely" in a large country that has dozens of small, remote airports. "Our 5 50-seat F 50s do a very reliable job, but one day we will have to replace them," Foster said. A decision between the Dash 8-Q300 and ATR 42 could come next year.
(AKZ) plans to fly the E190 to nearby international destinations. It also plans to add 6 new A320s in 2012 to 2013. Meanwhile, it is building up its own maintenance center in Almaty to be able to do "C" maintenance checks next year. It currently operates 4 757-200s, 2 767-300ERs, 1 A319, 7 A320s, 2 A321s and 5 F 50s.
March 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) reported a +$47 million net profit in 2009, a record result for the airline that represented a +176% improvement from the +$17 million surplus posted in 2008. Revenue fell -16% to $546 million and (AKZ) benefited from a +$8.2 million foreign exchange gain. "The result represents the effectiveness of cost-saving measures from mid-2008," President Peter Foster said. "The fact that we were not fuel hedged until April 2009 meant that we took full advantage of price falls. Add to that unit cost savings across the airline, and in particular the dismantling of general sales agency agreements in Kazakhstan and Russia following the implementation of (IATA) eBSPs in both markets, and the year was very satisfactory in spite of the drop in revenues."
Astana (AKZ) currently operates 22 airplanes and plans to take delivery of 2 E190s in early 2011.
April 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) suspends service to politically troubled Kyrgyzstan.
May 2010: Air Astana (AKZ), which celebrated its 8th anniversary recently, said it plans to expand its Almaty hub by launching new services to Urumchi in western China, Dushanbe in Tajikistan, and Tashkent in Uzbekistan during the 2nd half of this year. "Additional new routes to other cities in southern Russia, including Omsk and Yekatenburg, are also under consideration," (AKZ) said. (AKZ) said it will operate the routes with new, leased E190s it will begin taking delivery of next year. It will use A320s on the routes until the Embraer (EMB) airplanes arrive.
July 2010: As the national carrier of Kazakhstan, Air Astana (AKZ) provides scheduled services from Almaty to 15 domestic destinations, while international flights serve >10 points in Europe, Russia, the Near and Far East.
Employees = 2,878.
(IATA) Code: KC - 465. (ICAO) Code: KZR (Callsign - ASTANALINE).
Parent organization/shareholders: Sovereign Wealth Fund Samruk-Kaznya (51%); & BAE Systems (49%).
Alliances: Air China (BEJ); AirBaltic (BAU); Austrian Airlines (AUL); and (S7) Airlines (SBR).
Main Base: Almaty (Alma-Ata) International Airport (ALA).
Hub: Astana airport (TSE); & Atyarau airport (GUW).
Domestic, Scheduled Destinations: Aktau; Aktyubinsk; Almaty; Astana; Atyrau; Dzhambyl; Karaganda; Kostanay; Kzyl-Orda; Pavlodar; Petropavlovsk; Semipalatinsk; Shimkent; Uralsk; Ust-Kamenogorsk; & Zhezkazgan.
International, Scheduled Destinations: Amsterdam; Bangkok; Beijing; Delhi; Dubai; Frankfurt; Hanover; Istanbul; London; Moscow; & Seoul.
August 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) said it enjoyed record 1st-half pre-tax earnings of +$33.5 million, a jump of +34% over the year-ago period. Revenue rose +24% to $245 million. Further figures were not provided.
(AKZ) said passenger numbers increased by +14% with an average passenger load factor of 66% LF. It said these figures were achieved despite operational disruptions caused by a very severe winter across Kazakhstan and closure of European airspace owing to the Icelandic volcanic eruption.
“Air Astana (AKZ) continues to lead the (CIS) region with its modern fleet, expanding network and service improvements,” said (AKZ) President Peter Foster. “Financial results have exceeded expectations. These have been driven by revenue increases across all markets. Although the cost savings, which resulted in 2009 being a record year, have come under some pressure with the improving economy, overall prospects for the full year are good.”
A fleet of new-generation Embraer E190 airliners has been selected to operate on the airline’s expanding Central Asia network, with the 1st of 3 leased airplanes scheduled for delivery in early 2011.
(AKZ) currently operates a network of 26 domestic and 23 international destinations, including London Heathrow (LHR), from its hubs in Almaty, Astana, and Atyrau. (AKZ) flies an all western fleet comprising of 2 767s, 4 757s, 10 A320 Family and 6 Fokker F 50s.
Air Astana (AKZ) announced that its 1st group of 8 pilots (FC) receiving ab initio training graduated, following completion of a 2-year program at the Florida Institute of Technology's Pilot Training Center. The pilots (FC) will now proceed with crew resource management (CRM) and A320 type rating training before being confirmed as first officers.
September 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) is hoping it can overcome a ban restricting expansion of its European operations, but is wary that it could be outlawed from the region completely if the country’s safety issues are not addressed. (AKZ), which is majority-owned by the government of Kazakhstan with 49% held by BAE Systems, managed to circumnavigate a blanket ban applied last year by the European Union (EU) to all other Kazakhstan operators when an (ICAO) audit of the country’s civil aviation committee (CAC) revealed significant deficiencies in regulatory oversight. “We avoided the ban thanks to our multi-state regulatory set-up,” says (AKZ)’s President Peter Foster. “However, we didn’t emerge scot-free and remain on the (EU)’s
Annex B, which restricts further European expansion.”
(AKZ) operates 23 domestic and 24 international routes with a 22-strong fleet of A320 family airplanes, 757/767s, and F 50 turboprops. These are all registered in Aruba, which is a Dutch sovereign territory, meaning that its department of civil aviation
(DCA) is based on that of the Netherlands, says Foster. “We have a European Aviation Safety Agency Part 145 license and are audited annually by the UK Civil Aviation Authority,” he adds.
(AKZ) currently serves 4 cities in Europe: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Hannover and London — but the (EU) ban prevents it from adding further frequencies and destinations. (AKZ) has been lobbying the (EU) to lift the ban, while the Aruba (DCA) has been assisting the Kazakhstan (CAC) to address safety concerns and has based some former UK (CAA) airplane inspectors in the country to facilitate this. Foster is hopeful that the freeze can be removed next year, but also is aware that if safety concerns are not addressed, (AKZ) could be swept up in the blanket ban, which he says would be “a disaster.”
Operational restrictions aside, (AKZ) enjoyed a healthy rise in profits last year despite a fall in revenue and traffic, and it projects further strong gains in 2010. In 2009, revenue fell -15% to $555 million, but profits almost doubled to +$48 million, thanks to some prudent cost and capacity cuts, said Foster. “We reduced utilization, cut back the route network and laid off some foreign pilots (FC) on short term contracts. We also renegotiated most of our leases by requesting extensions for immediate reduction in rentals.” Because the airline does not hedge its fuel purchases,
it suffered when prices soared in 2008, but had an “enormous
saving” when they came down last year, he added. The structural cost reductions implemented last year mean that (AKZ) should break its profit record “by a substantial margin” in 2010. “Revenue should be around $700 million, and passengers up +18%,” said Foster. Next year, (AKZ) will bolster its regional operations with the introduction of three Embraer E190s on lease, and the 1st of 6 new A320s will arrive in 2012.
Next on the agenda is the possible resurrection of a planned 787 order. (AKZ) signed a letter of intent (LOI) in 2008 for 3 787s plus 3 options for delivery in 2016, which subsequently
slipped to 2019 amid the program delays. That deal has now expired, but Foster would like to revive the order with the aim of introducing the new twinjet in 2014/15 to replace its 757-200s.
READ ATTACHED "AIRLINER WORLD" ARTICLE ON AIR ASTANA (AKZ) GROWTH NEWS - -"AKZ-2010-09-GROWTH NEWS."
November 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) will launch 2x-weekly, Almaty – St Petersburg (SCO) service on December 2 aboard an A320. (AKZ) is launching 3x-weekly service from Almaty (ALA) to Dushanbe on November 21 and Tashkent (TSE) on December 2 as part of its strategy to further develop (ALA) into a regional hub. It will commence a 2x-weekly, (TSE) - Yekaterinburg service from December 8 and weekly (SCO) - Istanbul flights from November 28.
(AKZ) will launch 2x-weekly, Almaty – St Petersburg service on December 2 aboard an A320.
December 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) is in talks to acquire 3 787-8s, "Bloomberg" reported. (AKZ) aims to receive 787s in 2014 if the talks conclude with an order. That order, plus the planned acquisition of 6 A320s would lead (AKZ) to invest >$500 million through 2015, (CEO) Peter Foster said.
January 2011: Air Astana (AKZ) said it posted an un-audited, pre-tax profit of +$96.4 million in 2010, more than double a +$47 million profit in 2009 that had been a company record. Full-year revenue was $656 million, up +20.1%. Passengers carried lifted +13% to 2.57 million on a +8% increase in capacity.
President Peter Foster said, "It is hard to imagine how trading conditions could have been better in 2010, with costs for much of the year at post-recession levels but with substantially healthier markets from March onwards. We don't expect conditions to be so benign in 2011. However, we will continue to expand our Central Asian network with the introduction of Embraer E190s in April."
(AKZ) is a joint venture between Kazakhstan sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, which holds a 51% share, and BAE Systems, which controls 49%. (AKZ) operates 22 airplanes on 24 domestic and 27 international routes.
February 2010: Air Astana (AKZ) said it will seek injunctive relief from Spanish courts to require Amadeus to continue to provide services to (AKZ). On January 21, Amadeus cancelled (AKZ)'s Participating Carrier Agreement. The 2 are negotiating over a contract to replace the 1 that expired December 31.
(AKZ) accused the Global Distribution System (GDS) of "coercive" behavior. "By canceling the agreement with 15 days notice Amadeus has sought to take advantage of the lack of immediate alternative for distribution in many markets to pressure (AKZ) to accept a new agreement on Amadeus’ terms, and in doing so has shown a complete disregard of consumers' rights and interests," (AKZ) stated. It said that Amadeus' share of travel agency bookings in Kazakhstan was >90% in 2010.
April 2011: Air Astana (AKZ) has signed a new code share agreement with Etihad Airways (EHD). Travelers originating from any of (EHD)'s destinations worldwide can now fly to Kazakhstan through (EHD)'s hub in Abu Dhabi. (AKZ) currently operates 11 services per week to Abu Dhabi from Almaty and Astana, complementing (EHD)'s 4 services(3 to Almaty and 1 to Astana).
May 2011: 9 year anniversary of operations!
In 2010, Air Astana (AKZ) earned a net profit of +$78 million on $656 million in revenue.
(AKZ) President, Peter Foster said that Ukraine-based AeroSvit (UKA) approached (AKZ) about forming a possible partnership and will hold talks this month. Foster said the 2 carriers “have a lot in common,” such as a Boeing (TBC) fleet, and he believes the network of both carriers would “fit perfectly,” but didn’t provide additional details on the potential deal.
Foster said Kazakhstan-based (AKZ), the leading player in the Central Asian region, will “sooner or later” join an alliance, perhaps Star (SAL) or Oneworld (ONW), as part of (AKZ)’s strategy to expand and operate more flights to Europe. (AKZ)’s major hub, Almaty (ALA), handles 70% of its flights and should have a new terminal by 2014, he said.
In 2010, (AKZ) launched 10 new routes, started a "dynamic code share" with Etihad Airways (EHD), and switched (ALA) - Dubai services to (EHD)’s hub in Abu Dhabi. Regarding international expansion, Foster said (AKZ) plans to add Hong Kong service, is evaluating flying to Singapore and Shanghai, is increasing its presence in India, and may add new services to Colombo. By 2020, (AKZ) expects to operate up to 50 airplanes and add destinations such as Milan, Paris, Prague, and Munich, as well as Japan and China. Foster said the government wants (AKZ) to add nonstop service to the USA.
For 2010, (AKZ) reported a net profit of +$77 million and transported 2.56 million passengers, up +17% compared to 2009. "We are very happy with a 11.5% margin," Foster added. (AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between Kazakhstan sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, which holds a 51% share, and (BAE) Systems, which holds 49%.
(AKZ) is in talks with Boeing (TBC) to order up to 6 new 767-300ERs for a 2013 to 2014 delivery, President Peter Foster said. Foster said the airplanes could serve as an interim solution as it awaits the 787, the first of which it now does not expect to receive until 2019, owing to the program's multiple delays. (AKZ)'s Memo of Understanding (MOU) for 3 787s plus 3 options, signed in January 2008, is "inactive" but has not been cancelled, Foster said. The (MOU) called for (AKZ) to receive its 1st 787 Dreamliner in 2014 or 2015.
(AKZ)'s fleet comprises 4 757-200s, 2 767-300ERs, 1 A319, 7 A320s, 2 A321s, 5 F 50s and 1 Embraer E190. The 4 757s are on leases that will expire in 2012, but can be extended to 2014, Foster said, noting (AKZ) will add a 5th 757 this year.
(AKZ) was scheduled to take delivery of the 1st of 6 E190s. 2 E190s will be leased from Jetscape and 2 from Air Lease Corporation. (AKZ) will have 3 E190s in operation this year, with 3 more to come in 2012. The E190s will be deployed on regional routes from Almaty (ALA) to Samara or Tbilisi from June 3.
The 1st of 6 new A320 family airplanes (an A321) will be delivered in November 2012, followed by a 2nd delivery in December 2012. 4 new A320s will join (AKZ)'s fleet in 2013, replacing older airplanes. 5 Fokker F 50s will be phased out by 2012, said Foster.
(AKZ) leased a used A320-200 (3141) and 2 new Embraer E190 airplanes from Air Lease Corporation (ALE).
Embraer delivered an E190 to Air Astana (AKZ), the 1st of the type (AKZ) has received and the 1st of 2 it had been slated to take this year. The E190, which is leased by (AKZ) from Florida-based Jetscape, will be be based in Almaty and used to “right size routes and fill a capacity gap between its Fokker and Airbus (EDS) fleets.” It will be used to fly a mix of domestic and international city pairs from Almaty and Astana.
(AKZ) also signed a lease agreement with Air Lease Corporation for 2 additional E190s scheduled to be delivered in 2011 and 2012, Embraer stated, adding that (AKZ) is also is in discussions with the manufacturer about an order for 2 more E190s.
(AKZ)'s E190 is configured in a dual-class layout, with 97 seats — 9C in business class and 88Y in economy class. “The E190’s seating capacity will efficiently complement our narrow body fleet, flying where it would be uneconomical to deploy larger airplanes, without compromising passenger comfort. Its range, efficiency and size are ideal for (AKZ) and will enable us to grow our domestic and Central Asia network,” said (AKZ) President Peter Foster.
The E190s will initially operate on a number of domestic routes and also internationally to capital cities Biskek (Kyrgyzstan)), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), and Tashkent (Uzbekistan). The other 2 leased E190s will operate to Samara in Russia and Tbilisi, Georgia.
Embraer said (AKZ) also signed a service contract for Embraer’s "Pool Flight Hour Program" to cover its E190s.
June 2011: Air Astana (AKZ) launched 3x-weekly, E190 Almaty service to Tbilisi and Samara.
July 2011: Air Astana (AKZ) posted a pre-tax profit of +$36.9 million for the 1st half of 2011, up +10.4% over the corresponding period in 2010.
Revenue rose +18% year-over-year to $346 million, as passengers carried increased +18.7%. (AKZ) reported that its operating margin during the June quarter was affected by fuel prices that lifted around +33% year-over-year, but said its markets continued to strengthen, resulting in robust revenue growth.
During the period, (AKZ) took delivery of the 1st 2 of 6 Embraer E190s it has on order, bringing its fleet to 24 total airplanes. It increased frequencies on all of its central Asia/(CIS) routes and launched new flights to Samara in southern Russia and Tbilisi in Georgia.
"Regional routes in particular have exceeded expectations," President Peter Foster stated. (AKZ) remains cautious regarding full year earnings because of increased fuel costs and general inflationary pressure. It has completed installation of lie-flat seats in the business class (C) cabins of its 757 fleet. The same seats will be installed on its 767-300ERs later this year.
August 2011: SEE ATTACHED "AIRLINER WORLD" REVIEW OF AIR ASTANA (AKZ) - - "AKZ-2011-08-A/B/C/D/E."
September 2011: Air Astana (AKZ) officially opened its new Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility in Almaty. It is equipped with non-destructive testing (NDT) and repairs to wheels, batteries and airplane structures. It is expected to save (AKZ) $1 million in its 1st year as (AKZ) moves its 3rd party maintenance work from outside providers to its own home facility. (AKZ) plans to establish a leading jet airplane (MRO) center for Central Asia and the (CIS).
Air Astana (AKZ) named Kales Airline Serves as its European Cargo (GSSA).
October 2011: E190-100LR (0487, P4-KCE), ex-(PT-TPL), (ALE) leased.
November 2011: Air Astana (AKZ) has 2 big competitive advantages upon which to build: lots of oil in its home market and a geographically well-placed hub between Europe and Asia. With this in mind, (AKZ) (which has a mixed narrow body and wide body fleet of 25 airplanes) is introducing new service from Almaty, Kazakhstan's main business city, to Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City next year.
December 2011: As the national carrier of Kazakhstan, Air Astana (AKZ) provides scheduled services from Almaty to 22 domestic and 27 international destinations in Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Europe, the Near and Far East, and Russia.
Employees = 2,934.
(IATA) Code: KC - 465. (ICAO) Code: KZR - (Callsign - ASTANALINE).
Parent organization/shareholders: National Welfare Fund Samruk-Kazyna (51%); & (BAE) Systems (49%).
Alliances: AirBaltic (BAU); Asiana Airlines (AAR); Austrian Airlines (AUL); Etihad Airways (EHD), and (KLM).
Main Base: Almaty (Alma-Ata) International Airport (ALA).
Hub: Astana airport (TSE).
Domestic, Scheduled Destinations: Aktau; Aktyubinsk; Almaty; Astana; Atyrau; Dzhambyl; Karaganda; Kostanay; Kzyl-Orda; Pavlodar; Petropavlovsk; Semipalatinsk; Shimkent; Uralsk; Ust-Kamenogorsk; & Zhezkazgan.
International, Scheduled Destinations: Amsterdam; Bangkok; Beijing; Delhi; Dubai; Frankfurt; Hanover; Istanbul; London; Moscow; & Seoul.
January 2012: SEE ATTACHED "AIRLINER WORLD" ARTICLE - - "AKZ-2012-01 - ASIAN GROWTH."
February 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) is purchasing 4 767-300ERs and 3 787-8s in an order worth $1.3 billion at list prices. It is the largest ever in Kazakhstan’s civil aviation history. The 767s will be delivered in 2013 and 2014 and the 787s in 2017 and 2019.
(AKZ) Chairman Nurzhan Baidauletov said the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner “will place (AKZ) amongst the leading airlines of the world in terms of operating the highest quality, environmentally friendly air services.” Baidauletov also stressed that (AKZ) would not require state or shareholder funds for the purchases, but “will fund the new airplanes through a combination of its own cash and financial instruments through the air finance market.”
(AKZ) President Peter Foster said the 767s, equipped with winglets, would replace the 2 leased airplanes of this type and progressively replace its leased 757s.
(AKZ) also announced its 2011 net profit declined by -19% to +$61.9 million. Capacity grew by +15% and the number of passengers carried increased +16% to just >3 million. Revenue was $760 million, up +16%.
Foster said the decline in profitability was entirely due to fuel price rises of >130% over 2010. Nonetheless, “a net margin of 8.1% is very respectable by industry standards and ahead of our 10-year average,” he said.
During the year, (AKZ) introduced its 1st 3 Embraer E190 regional jets and 1 additional 757. It launched new services to Samara in Russia and Tbilisi in Georgia and increased frequencies on most of other routes.
(AKZ) continues to expand its Central Asian network as it takes delivery of Embraer E190 airplanes, enabling (AKZ) to offer new international services from Astana (TSE) to Ulan Bator, Mongolia and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and from Almaty to Kazan, Russia.
(AKZ) will launch Atyrau - Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO) service following the delivery of 3 Embraer E190s in the second quarter of 2012. (AKZ) introduced its 1st E190 in April 2011 and operates 3 of this type on regional routes throughout Central Asia.
(AKZ) operates a fleet of 26 airplanes, comprising 2 767-300s, 5 757-200s, 10 A321s/A320s/A319s, 3 Embraer E190s and 6 Fokker F 50s.
April 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) has begun phasing out its Fokker F 50 fleet. The 1st of 6 F 50s was retired earlier this month, 3 more will be removed from service between June and August, and the last 2 airplanes will remain in service until spring 2013.
The Embraer E190 is gradually taking over (AKZ)’s domestic and international routes.
(AKZ) operates a fleet of 25 airplanes, comprising 2 767-300s, 5 757-200s, 20 A321s/A320s/A319s, 3 Embraer E190s and 5 F 50s. (AKZ) serves 22 domestic and 27 international destinations.
May 2012: On May 12, Air Astana (AKZ) commenced services from Astana (TSE) to Tashkent (TAS) in neighboring Uzbekistan. While (AKZ) already serves the Uzbek capital with 4x-weekly frequencies from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital, (AKZ) now offers 2x-weekly services from Astana. Flights are operated with (AKZ)’s 97-seat, E190s. (AKZ) faces competition from Uzbekistan Airways (UZB)’s 2 weekly flights on the same route.
Russia and Kazakhstan will amend their bilateral agreement, Deputy Minister of Transport of Russia, Valery Okulov said at the "Wings of Russia" award ceremony. He did not disclose the details but said the bilateral agreements between Russia and some (CIS) republics are archaic and tough, regulating all possible details of flights between the countries.
Currently, only 1 carrier from each side (Russian, Transaero Airlines (TRX) and Kazakhstan-based Air Astana (AKZ)) is allowed to fly on the high-demand routes of Moscow - Almaty (ALA) and Moscow - Astana (TSE).
Later in the month, however, Transaero Airlines (TRX) and Air Astana (AKZ) were allowed to add 1 more frequency for each carrier on Moscow - Almaty (ALA) and Moscow - Astana (TSE) routes, due to growing demand. Each airline now will operate 15 flights per week between Moscow and (ALA), and 8 flights per week between Moscow and (TSE). Russia and Kazakhstan may add more designated carriers on the routes during the liberalization.
Industry experts say Russian and local (CIS) aviation authorities are interested in tough regulations to protect local carriers from increasing competition.
Some routes have already been liberalized. Last year, Russia and the Ukraine agreed to increase the number of carriers on the Moscow - Odessa route.
Okulov said the liberalized relations trend with different countries will continue, not only because Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO), but also because Russian airlines are trying to launch more international routes and compete with foreign carriers. Okulov also said Russian authorities will negotiate with Irish aviation authorities about changes in their bilateral agreement soon.
June 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) has reported increased traffic and capacity. 1st-quarter traffic rose +17% to 972,000 passengers compared to 834,000 in the year-ago period. Capacity rose by +14% in the first quarter to 2.92 million, against 2.55 million year-over-year. (AKZ) reported 1st-quarter operational revenue of $243 million for the period.
(AKZ) will delay launching services to Hong Kong by some weeks while awaiting final approval, (AKZ) President Peter Foster said. (AKZ) announced earlier this month it would add 2x-weekly Almaty (ALA) - Hong Kong service from July 1. “We are still waiting. It [the launch of the service] is now likely to be August,” he said.
(AKZ) plans to increase frequency of existing services while adding a modest number of new destinations as it consolidates its position, Foster said.
Flights to Bangkok (currently 5x-weekly in the summer and 6x-weekly in the winter) will go daily in December. Kuala Lumpur service will increase to 5x-weekly in October from the current 3x-weekly flights.
Foster said (AKZ) plans to begin Singapore service, but “not immediately.” He also said (AKZ) is “very keen” to add to the number of services it runs to Delhi, where it will go daily next year. (AKZ) is keen to fly to Mumbai. However, Foster said the route is subject to bilateral agreements, so progress is likely to be slow.
He does not see a need for new airplanes. (AKZ) will take delivery of 6 A320s in November this year, 4 767s from next year, 5 Embraer E190s from early 2014 and 3 definite 787s, with the option to purchase 9 more from 2017. “It’s enough,” he said.
(AKZ) said it would add 2x-weekly, Almaty (ALA) Hong Kong from July 1; 3x-weekly, (ALA) - Kazan, Russia from June 1; 3x-weekly, (ALA) - Omsk, Russia from June 27; 2x-weekly, (ALA) - Beijing from July 11; 2x-weekly, (ALA) - St Petersburg from June 13; and 2x-weekly, (ALA) - Tbilisi, Georgia from September 1. There will also be a 3x-weekly service from Atyrau to Moscow starting August 1.
(AKZ) continues to replace its Fokker F 50s with Embraer E190s. The 1st of 6 F 50s was retired in April. (AKZ) will take delivery of 3 A320s and the last 2 out of 6 E190s this year. Earlier, it placed orders for 3 787s and 4 767-300ERs.
(AKZ)’s fleet consists of 2 767-300ERs, 5 757-200s, 10 A320s, 4 E190s and 5 F 50s.
July 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) launched 2x-weekly, Astana - Omsk Fokker F 50 service July 16, increasing to 4x-weekly September 1 with E190s. On July 16, (AKZ) commenced services connecting Astana (TSE) and Omsk (OMS) in Russia. Flights to this major Siberian industrial and transportation center are operated with Fokker F 50s on a 2x-weekly basis until September, when two additional E190-operated flights a week will be added. “Omsk becomes (AKZ)’s 7th destination in Russia and will significantly boost business, cultural, educational and tourism links between the 2 cities and provide convenient onward connections,” commented Dmitriy Kaparulin, (AKZ)’s Regional General Manager Russia & the (CIS).
(AKZ) has announced plans to lease 3 additional E190s from lessor (BOC) Aviation (SIL) with deliveries scheduled between spring 2013 and spring 2014. (AKZ) currently already operates 4 E190s on domestic and regional services and has another two airplanes on order itself.
August 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) saw its 2012 1st-half net profit decline to +$4.95 million from +$36.9 million for the same period a year ago.
Revenues grew +13% to $394 million, matched by a similar increase in passenger numbers. Capacity grew +11% with the addition of a 757-200 and three Embraer E190s. The fleet size now stands at 26 airplanes after the retirement of three six Fokker F 50s, with the remainder due for retirement by January 2013 and replacement by 2 additional Embraer E190s.
(AKZ) will take delivery of 4 new A320s and 2 new A321s from November 2012 to May 2013, and recently placed an order for 4 new 767-300s and 3 787-8s, to be delivered from November 2013 through 2017.
Planned new routes for the 2nd half include Almaty to Hong Kong; Almaty to Ho Chi Minh City; and Atyrau to Moscow. Flights from Astana to Beijing will be added to existing Almaty to Beijing services.
“The 1st half was challenging due to fuel price increases of >140% over the same period last year. The 1st quarter in particular was very tough.” (AKZ) President Peter Foster said. “The 2nd half, traditionally our strong period, is looking more promising as fuel prices have come off slightly and cost savings in other areas kick in. All markets with the exception of Europe continue to grow and we are confident of a 10th straight year of profitability.”
(AKZ) has increased Almaty - Urumqi services from 3x-weekly to daily.
September 2012: On 25 August, Air Astana (AKZ) began operating the 3,660 km route between the Kazakh capital, Astana (TSE) and China’s capital, Beijing (PEK). The 2x-weekly service will be operated with 166-seat, 757-200 airplanes. (AKZ) already offers flights to Beijing from Almaty, the former capital city of Kazakhstan. That route, which launched in December 2002, has achieved a 70% LF load factor in the last 30 months. Yerdaulet Shamshiev, (AKZ)’s Regional General Manager, China & Mongolia, said: “Air Astana (AKZ) is delighted to introduce this new direct flight between the capitals of Kazakhstan and People’s Republic of China, which will allow residents and visitors of both cities to save time and money in flying between Astana and Beijing. I’m confident that the flights will further stimulate business, commercial, political and cultural relations between the two countries.”
(AKZ) added another Chinese route to its network on August 28. From Almaty (ALA), (AKZ)’s main hub in Kazakhstan’s largest city, flights are now operated 2x-weekly to Hong Kong (HKG). The 4,115 km flights operate on Tuesdays and Fridays with 166-seat, 757 airplanes. “Air Astana is in the midst of its 10th anniversary celebrations and I’m delighted to add this pioneering direct service to Hong Kong from Central Asia to our achievements this year. Alpine Almaty and dynamic Hong Kong are both exciting destinations and with visa free travel for HKSAR/ Kazakhstan passport holders, I’m confident about strong traffic growth amongst both business and leisure travellers,” said Peter Foster President of Air Astana (AKZ).
Air Astana (AKZ) sees no need for joining a global alliance as the rapidly expanding carrier offers a “unique network in this part of the world,” (AKZ) President Peter Foster said. He said that (AKZ) has “tactical relationships,” especially in code shares, which make it a more attractive partner. “Why we should tie our hands in an alliance?”
After the announcement that Emirates (EAD) and Oneworld (ONW) Alliance member, Qantas (QAN) have entered into a 10-year global partnership, Foster believes “the whole alliance game is clearly changed. Equity shareholding between airlines will trump alliances,” he said.
Foster said the industry is focusing on major airline mergers, although he does not expect (AKZ) to invest in other airlines. “Our position in the region is strong,” he said, but “we are not looking at [mergers] currently.”
Foster said the Kazakhstan government is keen to strengthen the nation on the global map through projects such as (IATA)’s "Silk Road in the Sky." “It could be very likely that there is one particular hub, maybe in Astana,” he said.
Looking forward, Foster said (AKZ) faces some financial challenges after its first-half net profit declined to $4.95 million from $36.9 million year-over-year. “We had some good months, but the 1st quarter was very difficult,” he said, but “all our new routes are doing well and we are confident that it will be a good year.”
(AKZ) will feature a number of Rockwell Collins avionics upgrades on a fleet of new A320/321 airplanes later this year. (AKZ) selected the GLU-925 Multi Mode Receivers (GLU-925 MMR), which will allow its operators to use Required Navigation Performance (RNP)/Area Navigation (RNAV) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) capabilities.
Rockwell Collins said the airplanes will be delivered to Air Astana (AKZ) equipped with the GLU-925 (MMR)s (and a number of other advanced avionics components) beginning in November.
In 5 years, Foster said (AKZ)’s fleet should grow from 26 to 42 airplanes, which will be used on new routes, primarily in Asia.
(AKZ) will take delivery of 4 new A320s and 2 new A321s between November and May. It recently placed an order for 4 new 767-300s, which will be delivered in October 2013, and 3 787-8s. “The 1st 787 is scheduled to arrive in 2017 and should operate to the USA,” Foster confirmed
Asian lessor, (BOC) Aviation (SIL) has received its 1st production line Embraer E190 airplane, which will be placed with Kazakhstan carrier, Air Astana (AKZ).
The E190 is the 1st of 3 (SIL) E190s destined for (AKZ). The other 2 airplanes are scheduled for delivery in spring 2013 and 2014.
(AKZ) President Peter Foster said the airplane will be used to further expand the airline’s network.
(BOC) Aviation (SIL) has a portfolio of 193 airplanes, with a further 61 on firm order.
October 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in 2013 to raise funds. According to (AKZ) (CEO) Peter Foster, the (IPO) may take place in next year’s 3rd quarter. Foster said it is not reasonable to sell fewer than 15% to 20% of its shares. (AKZ) is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, which hold 51% and 49% shares, respectively.
(AKZ)’s (IPO) will be a part of a program (called People’s (IPO), in which only Kazakhstan citizens will be able to buy shares) launched by the Kazakhstan government. Through the program, several companies from different segments (including oil, gas and transport) will raise funds on the domestic market.
Foster said there could be a secondary listing to give the airline access to the international capital markets, which could be in London or Hong Kong.
(AKZ) flies from Astana and Almaty. Its fleet consists of 26 airplanes including 767-300ERs, 757-200s, A320 family and Embraer E190s. In the next 5 years, (AKZ) plans to increase its fleet to 42 airplanes. (AKZ) will take delivery of 4 new A320s and 2 new A321s between November and May. Earlier this year, (AKZ) placed an order for three 787-8s and four new 767-300s, which will be delivered in October 2013.
November 2012: Kazakhstan national carrier, Air Astana (AKZ) selected Lufthansa (DLH) Consulting to assist with its network and fleet expansion plan, in an effort to keep pace with the continued increase in passenger air traffic in Central Asia. Lufthansa (DLH) developed a 5-year expansion plan, aimed at expanding (AKZ)’s network to more destinations in Central Asia and Russia, the company said.
Air Astana (AKZ) recently added its 6th Embraer E190 jet to its fleet, and expects to add another 10 airplanes to its fleet in 2013.
December 2012: Air Astana (AKZ) took delivery of its 1st A321, its 1st airplane ordered directly from Airbus (EDS). The 2nd A321 was delivered on December 15th.
4 A320s will be delivered one on December 19, and the others in May, August and November.
(AKZ)’s fleet comprises 26 airplanes including 767-300ERs, 757-200s, A320 family aircraft and Embraer E190s.
In the next 5 years, (AKZ) plans to increase its fleet to 42 airplanes. Earlier this year, (AKZ) placed an order for 4 new 767-300s, which will be delivered in October 2013, and 3 787-8s, the 1st of which will be delivered in 2017.
Last month, (AKZ) announced plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in 2013 to raise funds.
1 Embraer E190-100LR (604, P4-KCI), ex-(PT-TJL), (BOC) Aviation leased.
February 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) has reported a 2012 net profit of $57.2 million, down -7% year-over-year. “The full year proved much better than expected after a difficult first half in which profit fell by >-80%,” President Peter Foster said. In the 2nd half, the strength of (CIS) markets, strong performance of new services to China and Hong Kong, and nonfuel savings made up most of the difference and offset higher fuel prices.
(AKZ) plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in 2013 to raise funds, but will require an agreement by its 2 shareholders of the principal and mechanics, Foster said, adding he is hopeful these discussions will take place in 2013.
(AKZ) is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, which hold 51% and 49% shares, respectively.
Revenue increased +16% to $870 million against a capacity increase of +14% in the prior-year period. During 2012, Air Astana (AKZ) took delivery of 2 A321s, 1 A320 and 2 Embraer E190s, purchased via export credit finance leases. It retired its entire Fokker F 50 fleet.
(AKZ) operates 2 767-300ERs, 5 757-200s, 9 A320 family airplanes and 6 Embraer E190s.
“We expect 2013 to be another mixed year with continued cost pressure, though at present, markets remain stable,” Foster said.
JorAMCo won a maintenance services contract from Air Astana (AKZ) to perform "C"-maintenance checks on 3 Embraer E190s.
March 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) and Turkish Airlines (THY) have signed a letter of intent (LOI) for a wide-ranging cooperation, including a code share agreement on routes between Kazakhstan and Turkey. From May, the 2 carriers will code share on flights between Istanbul Ataturk - Almaty and Ataturk - Astana. The deal will also include a special prorate agreement to destinations beyond their respective hubs in Almaty, Astana and Istanbul.
“We believe this partnership with Air Astana (AKZ) will bring benefit for both sides, not only in commercial aspects in rapidly growing Kazakhstan, but also in technical and training areas,” (THY) President & (CEO) Temel Kotil said.
April 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) launched 3x-weekly, March 31: Almaty - Kiev Boryspil with A320s; Astana - Kiev Boryspil with Embraer E190s. (AKZ) will begin 3x-weekly, E190 service: Atyrau - Moscow Sheremetyevo (April 1); Astana (TSE) - Orenburg (REN) service (April 16). (AKZ) will operate both routes using E190 airplanes.
(AKZ) will compete with Ukraine International Airlines (UKR) on the Ukrainian routes, and Transaero Airlines (TRX) on the Atyrau - Moscow route. (AKZ) will be the sole operator for flights between Astana and Orenburg.
(AKZ) expanded its offering to Kyrgyzstan, as it added a 2nd route to the country’s capital on 23 April. (AKZ), which already operates services to Bishkek (FRU) from Almaty (5x-weekly flights), now offers 3x-weekly frequencies from Astana (TSE). Richard Ledger, Air Astana (AKZ)’s Director Worldwide Sales, commented: “The new services from Astana not only complement the existing Almaty route, but significantly, also provides connections between the 2 capital cities. In addition to direct traffic, the schedule of the new flights provides good connections in Astana to destinations in the Russian Federation and Europe”. The airline’s 97-seat (9F, 88Y) E190s will be deployed to operate this 900 km route.
May 2013: Air Astana (AKZ), Kazakhstan’s flag carrier, has taken delivery of its 1st A320 airplane (- - SEE PHOTO - - "AKZ-A320 1ST WITH SHARKLETS - 2013-05") equipped with Sharklet fuel saving wing tip devices. (AKZ) becomes the 1st in the region to benefit from the new wing-tip devices. (AKZ)’s A320, powered by (IAE) (V2500) engines, features a comfortable 2 class cabin, seating 148 passengers with 16C in business class and 132Y in economy.
Sharklets are newly designed wing-tip devices that improve the airplane’s aerodynamics and significantly cut the airline’s fuel burn and emissions by -4% on longer sectors. They are made from light-weight composites and are 2.4 meters tall. Sharklets are an option on A320 Family airplanes. They offer the flexibility to A320 Family operators of either adding around 100 nautical miles more range or allowing an increased payload capability of up to 450 kgs.
Air Astana (AKZ) started commercial service with its 1st Airbus (EDS) airplane, an A320, in 2006, and is currently operating 1 A319, 7 A320s and 4 A321s.
June 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) E190-100LR (P4-ACI) displayed at Paris Air Show - - SEE PHOTO - - "AKZ-2013-06 - PARIS AIR SHOW".
July 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) reported a 1st-half net profit of +$11.9 million, more than doubling a +$5 million net profit in the year-ago period.
August 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) has extended its partnership with Lufthansa Consulting, which will review its network and fleet plan, taking into account (AKZ)’s capacity constraints at Kazakhstan’s Almaty and Astana airports.
The consultancy has developed a new hub structure, which will focus on regional-to-regional connections that would be easy to implement and serve as a backbone of (AKZ)’s development in Kazakhstan.
Lufthansa Consulting also revised its 5-year network and fleet plan in view of the new constraints and potential solutions. In line with traffic projections, Lufthansa Consulting also defined minimum airport infrastructure requirements for (AKZ)’s hub operation.
Air Astana (AKZ) has mandated (HSBC) to arrange an export credit agency (ECA)-guaranteed loan covering its last 2 A320 deliveries.
The 1st A320 (5734) is due later this month. The 2nd aircraft is expected to close in September. The facility is guaranteed by Germany's Euler Hermes and has a 12-year tenor, confirms (AKZ).
(HSBC) closed an (ECA)-backed financing facility on a new A320 (5613) for Air Astana (AKZ) in May. (AKZ) has now closed (ECA)-guaranteed financings on 6 new A320 family airplanes. (RBS) acted as a guaranteed lender on the 1st 3 units.
The International Aero Engines (V2500-) powered fleet order was placed in 2008, but (AKZ) converted 2 A320 orders into the larger A321 model in 2011.
September 2013: 767-3KYER (42220, P4-KEA), delivery.
October 2013: 767-3KYER (42221, P4-KEB), delivery.
November 2013: Air Astana (AKZ), the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, expanded its offering to London, when it commenced operations on the 4,800 km route from Astana (TSE) to London Heathrow (LHR) on October 31st. (AKZ), which already serves the London airport with 2x-weekly services from Almaty, the country’s former capital, now offers single weekly schedule on the newly launched route. 757-200s are deployed to serve the market. The only other carrier to provide non-stop services between Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom is British Airways (BAB), which offers 3x-weekly frequencies from London Heathrow to Almaty. Peter Foster President of Air Astana (AKZ), said: “We are delighted to be able to increase services to the United Kingdom. Not only are we increasing our current capacity between Kazakhstan and London Heathrow by +50%, we are directly connecting the two capital cities for the 1st time. Following quickly on the heels of Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Kazakhstan, this step demonstrates the strengthening relationship between the 2 countries and our increasing focus on Astana in the run up to Expo 2017.” Air Astana (AKZ) launched services between Almaty and London in December 2003 and has carried >160,000 passengers on the route to date.
December 2013: Air Astana (AKZ) has taken delivery of the last of 6 new Airbus A320 family airplanes, with the latest airplane the 3rd to be equipped with sharklet wingtips and in a 16C business - /132Y economy-class configuration.
The 1st commercial service for the new airplane was on the Astana to Kyzylorda route. It has also taken delivery of 2 new Boeing 767-300ERs, which were ordered together with 3 787-8s in February 2012. A 3rd new 767-300ER will join the fleet in 2014, with the 787s being delivered between 2017 and 2019.
The fleet was ordered in 2008 and has been funded through the airline’s own financial resources, without any state support, (AKZ) said. (AKZ) reported a 1st-half net profit of +$11.9 million in July.
Air Astana (AKZ) started regular flight operations May 15, 2002 and operates a network of >60 international and domestic routes from hubs in Almaty, Astana, and Atyrau. (AKZ) operates 3 Boeing 767-300ERs, 5 757-200s, 12 A320 family airplanes and 7 Embraer E190s.
Air Astana (AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%. Its President is Peter Foster, a former executive at Cathay Pacific Airways (CAT) and former (CEO) at Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA).
February 2014: Kazakhstan will establish a new regional airline, called "Air Kazakhstan" to serve domestic routes with up to 10 Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 airplanes. Kazakhstan is located in central Asia. “We must register the new company by May, attract an operator (and we already know who it will be) buy these planes and deliver them by the end of this year,” Umirzak Shukeyev, head of the Samruk-Kazyna state investment fund, was quoted by "Reuters" as saying.
“We will probably start flying early next year,” he said, adding that Air Astana (AKZ) and Air Kazakhstan are expected to be close partners.
(AKZ) President, Peter Foster said in a statement that “Air Astana (AKZ) has been involved in the discussions of the formation of a regional airline with our majority shareholder, Samruk-Kazyna, since we retired the Fokker 50 fleet last January.”
Many domestic airports cannot serve Air Astana (AKZ)’s all-jet fleet and the company needed to take steps to serve these cities with modern turboprops operating to internationally compliant standards. “We welcome the decision, and expect to work closely with the new airline to jointly develop these markets for the benefit of both airlines and of the traveling public,” Foster added.
The creation of Air Kazakhstan should allow Air Astana (AKZ) to focus mainly on international routes.
In 2001, Kazakhstan and Britain’s (BAE) Systems established Air Astana; Samruk-Kazyna owns 51% and (BAE) owns the rest. It offers a network of >60 international and domestic routes and operates an all-Western fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft, Boeing 767-300ERs, 757-200s and Embraer E190s.
Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services has signed 767 heavy maintenance agreements with Air Astana (AKZ) and Rossiya Airlines (SDM), based in Kazakhstan and Russia, respectively. Boeing Shanghai will conduct 2 767 "C" checks for Air Astana (AKZ) and 3 767 "C" checks for Rossiya Airlines (SDM).
A320-232 (5968, P4-KBE), ex-(D-AUBM), and E190-100LR (0657, PR-KCK), ex-(PR-EED), both (BOC) Aviation (SIL) leased.
March 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) has reported a 2013 net profit of +$51.4 million, -15.7% down from the previous year.
(AKZ) said that without the combined effect of a one-off revenue adjustment in 2012 and currency exchange losses in 2013, underlying profit would have slightly exceeded that of the previous year.
Revenues rose +10.5% to $967 million, while passenger numbers increased by +13.5% to 3.7 million.
Air Astana (AKZ) President Peter Foster said (AKZ) made significant fleet and product upgrades in 2013, in addition to introducing new regional and long-haul routes. “These are investments for the long term, and enable us to continue to strengthen our position as the leader in this regions aviation markets,” he said.
Referring to prospects for 2014, Foster said that although the year began promisingly, the devaluation of the kazakh tengue by -17% in mid-February would have a negative effect on 2014 results. “Approximately 2 thirds of our revenue is earned in tengue, whereas our costs are largely in US dollars, so there will be a hit both to the balance sheet and to the market in the short term,” he said.
“However over the medium term, we are confident that the airline competitive cost base combined with regional economic expansion will enable us to resume strong growth.”
Air Astana (AKZ) will cooperate with recently-launched regional airline Air Kazakhstan (KAZ), which expects to start operations next year.
At the end of 2013, the fleet stood at 30 airplanes with an average age of 6.4 years, following the retirement of its last Fokker F 50 and introduction of new Boeing 767-300ERs and Airbus A320s to replace older airplanes of the same type. (AKZ) also increased its Embraer E190 fleet to 8 airplanes.
(AKZ) operates 767-300ERs, 757-200, A320 family and E190s on a network that includes almost 60 international and domestic routes from its hubs Almaty, Astana and Atyrau.
Air Astana (AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%.
April 2014: Air Astana ((IATA) Code: KC, based at Astana) (AKZ) has been given the go-ahead to increase its European coverage after the European Union (EU)'s Air Safety Committee (ASC) lifted sanctions placed on (AKZ) in 2009.
In its latest bulletin detailing changes to the bloc's Banned Operators List, the (ASC) said the Kazakh carrier had shown its safety oversights and procedures to be in line with international standards but said that all other Kazakh airlines would remain banned until the Kazakh authorities implement a sustainable system to effectively oversee the safety of these carriers.
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. Though this resulted in the (ASC) imposing a blanket ban on all Kazakh-registered airlines from flying to, from or within the (EU), Air Astana (AKZ) was exempted on account of its unique structure and regulatory framework including its European (EASA) Part 145 airplanes engineering license, the registration of its airplanes with the Department of Civil Aviation of Aruba (a Dutch overseas territory) and its (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registration.
Air Astana (AKZ) is a 51/49 joint-venture (JV) between Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth-fund, Samruk-Kazyna, and B Ae Systems ((IATA) Code: B1, based at Warton, England, UK). Air Astana (AKZ)'s (EU)-based destinations are London Heathrow, Frankfurt International and Amsterdam, though Paris (CDG) and Prague are reportedly under consideration.
(AKZ) currently operates 33 airplanes to 20 countries, and serves 39 destinations, 61 routes and 106 daily flights.
May 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) will begin summer season charter flights from Almaty and Astana to Southern Europe in June, following the lifting of restrictions by the European Union (EU) in April.
(AKZ)’s charter operations include Airbus A320 service from Astana to Rhodes, and Boeing 757-200/767-300ER service from Almaty to Heraklion and Barcelona. First flights will be operated on June 14, 20 and 21, with a 10-day rotation.
In addition, Air Astana (AKZ) will launch new scheduled services to Paris and Prague in 2015.
(AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%, operating almost to 60 international and domestic routes from hubs in Almaty, Astana, and Atyrau.
June 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) is expanding into Europe, planning to replace its narrow body fleet and is considering membership into an alliance for future growth.
The Kazakhstan-based carrier has launched 3x-weekly service from London Heathrow to Astana, following the lifting of safety restrictions by the European Union (EU) in April.
Air Astana (AKZ) President Peter Foster said (AKZ) is thinking about this expansion “very carefully;” it could not plan for it beforehand “because we didn’t have advance knowledge these [EU] restrictions would be lifted.”
(AKZ) is preparing to issue a request for proposal (RFP) this summer to leasing companies as it seeks to replace its Boeing 757-200s. Among the narrow body candidates are the Airbus A321neo and the Boeing 737 MAX. (AKZ) hopes to make a decision by October or November, Foster said.
Air Astana (AKZ) plans to widen its European network by adding service to Paris this fall and to Prague in the spring of 2015, complementing established European routes to Frankfurt and Amsterdam. New summer charter routes to Rhodes, Heraklion, and Barcelona will also commence from June.
To help (AKZ) decide on an alliance affiliation, Air Astana (AKZ) said it has enlisted the Seabury Group. (AKZ) has code share agreements with 3 Star (SAL) Alliance carriers, as well as with Etihad Airways (EHD) and (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines.
Air Astana (AKZ) operates 31 airplanes, including the Boeing 767-300ER, 757-200, Airbus A320 family and Embraer E190 airplanes. It serves 60 international and domestic routes from hubs in Almaty, Astana, and Atyrau.
In 2013, Air Astana (AKZ)’s passenger numbers increased +13.5%, to 3.7 million; revenues were up +10.5% to $967 million.
(AJW) Aviation has extended a flight-hour support contract with Air Astana (AKZ) for a further 5-year term until April 2019. The new agreement with (AJW) covers an additional 5 A320s, bringing the total to 15, plus a further 5 Boeing 757s and 3 767s.
767-3KYER (42223, P4-KEC), delivery.
July 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) and Asiana Airlines (AAR) have signed a code share agreement on routes between Kazakhstan and Korea. (AKZ) passengers will use (AAR)’s network to Asia and North America, while (AAR) passengers will use (AKZ)’s network across Central Asia, (CIS), and Europe.
Air Astana (AKZ) (CEO) Peter Foster believes (AKZ) could be ready for flotation within two to three years, generating extra capital for jet airplane investment.
August 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) reported second-quarter net profit of +$16.5 million, up +7% over the year-ago period. (AKZ) said the results were a rebound after the year’s first quarter was adversely affected by the -19% devaluation of the Kazakh Tenge in February.
“Markets have not been as affected as severely as expected by regional currency and political issues, and are showing resilience,” Air Astana (AKZ) President, Peter Foster said. “Having further reduced unit cost by -6%, we are expecting a strong performance in the third quarter and expect to again finish the year profitably, despite the -$48 million book loss we were obliged to incur, when the Tenge was devalued. Our investment and airplane acquisition programs are proceeding as planned.”
2nd-quarter revenue rose +4% to $230 million year-over-year. Operating profit was +$26.3 million, up +24%.
Air Astana (AKZ) carried 939,000 passengers in the 2nd quarter and took delivery of 3 Airbus A320s and 1 Boeing 767-300ER.
(AKZ) recently launched 3x-weekly service from London Heathrow to Astana, following the lifting of safety restrictions by the European Union (EU). (AKZ) will re-launch daily Almaty - Dubai Airbus A320 service on September 1st.
Air Astana (AKZ) has selected air transport communications and Information Technology (IT) specialist, (SITA), to provide messaging for operations, communications with partners, and advanced datalink for air traffic control (ATC). The deal comes as Kazakhstan’s flag carrier, (AKZ) prepares for future growth, following a +13.5% traffic increase in 2013.
Air Astana (AKZ) is considering using its new Boeing 787s to launch flights to the USA East Coast, and is eyeing potential code share partnerships to support the service.
September 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) has resumed non-stop service between Almaty (ALA) and Dubai (DXB) in the (UAE). The 2,813 km route will be served daily with (AKZ)’s A320s. The first flight was on September 1st and faces no direct competition. (AKZ) previously operated the route between 2002 and 2010. Air Astana (AKZ) already links Kazakhstan with the (UAE) thanks to operating four weekly flights between Astana and Abu Dhabi.
November 2014: The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Director General, Andrew Herdman welcomed Peter Foster President of Air Astana (AKZ), to receive (AKZ) as the 16th member of the (AAPA).
SEE PHOTO - - "AKZ-2014-11 - JOINS (AAPA)."
December 2014: Air Astana (AKZ) began daily, Almaty - Dubai Airbus A320 service. (AKZ) has added to its SE Asia route network with a direct flight from Astana, the Kazakh state capital Astana, to Bangkok, Thailand.
The 2x-weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) schedule complements (AKZ)’s existing Almaty - Bangkok service, which operates on a daily basis from the southernmost Kazakhstan city.
Using Boeing 767-300ERs, the service will link the Central Asian oil and gas producer’s economic center with the Association of SE Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, which is due to ratify its 10-nation (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) open for business next year.
(AKZ) has expanded its route network over the last 2 years to include other energy and commercial centers such as Baku, Beijing, London, and Tashkent, citing “expanding business and leisure traffic” between Kazakhstan and the new destinations.
(AKZ) operates a fleet of 30 Boeing (TBC), Airbus (EDS) and Embraer (EMB) airplanes from its Almaty headquarters.
January 2015: News Item A-1: Air Astana (AKZ) has reported a net profit of +$19.3 million in 2014, down -62% year-over-year. According to a company statement, the profit decline was due to a one-off re-evaluation of external debt of $49 million caused by the devaluation of the Kazakh tenge by -19% in February 2014.
(AKZ) (CEO) Peter Foster said that, “Without that devaluation, reaching a +$100 million net profit for 2014 would have been possible.”
(AKZ), the flag carrier reported a 2014 operating profit of +$97.7 million, up +35% over 2013, and the highest in its 13-year history. Revenue fell -3% to $932.9 million, while passenger traffic rose +3% to 3.8 million.
(AKZ) President & (CEO) Peter Foster said, “2014 was a good year considering the tenge devaluation and uncertainty in the region following the sanctions imposed on Russia, our largest market after Kazakhstan. The excellent operating result was a result of a -7% drop in unit cost and a rise in transit business to and from the region.”
He said, “Continued regional political and economic uncertainty would lead to 2015 being a difficult year.” Air Astana (AKZ) has grown an average of +13% per annum over the last few years. Foster is eyeing a +7% growth over the next five year.
(AKZ) has implemented a company-wide cost-savings program, including a network overhaul in reducing capacity and frequencies, re-assigning three Airbus A320 airplane lessor contracts to much lower rates, and re-negotiations with its maintenance company for "C" checks. “All this and our new airplanes, like the A320 with Sharklets or Embraer EMB-190s, has helped us to reduce unit costs by -8%,” he said.
In 2014, (AKZ) took delivery of 3 A320s, 1 E190 and 2 Boeing 767s, mostly replacement airplanes, resulting in an average fleet age of 5.5 years, the youngest in the region.
(AKZ) operates a network of 60 international and domestic routes from hubs in Astana, Almaty, and Atyrau.
(AKZ) operates a fleet of 30 Boeing 767-300ERs, 757-200s, A320 family and E190 airplanes. Air Astana (AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, which hold respective shares of 51% and 49%.
News Item A-2: Air Transport World (ATW) awarded Air Astana (AKZ) the 2015 Airline Market Leader, see attached - - "AKZ-2015-02 - Airline Market Leader-A/B" and "AKZ-1-PETER FOSTER-2015-02" Peter receiving the award from (ATW) Editor, Karen Walker.
At the presentation, when Peter Foster was asked to share his biggest lesson learned, Peter said "Take care of the details and the big picture will look after itself.”
February 2015: News Item A-1: Air Astana (AKZ), 1 of the world’s most remarkable airline success stories is set against a backdrop of the ancient Silk Road in the previously off-limits flank of the Soviet Union. (AKZ) has developed a unique footprint on the essentially virgin territory that is Central Asia. (AKZ)’s 2 shareholders, Samruk-Kazyna (the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan) and (BAE) Systems, launched (AKZ) with an initial investment of $17 million in May 2002.
News Item A-2: Air Astana (AKZ) has introduced an economy sleeper class (See photo - - "AKZ-2015-02 - ECONOMY SLEEPER" on Boeing 757 services from Astana to London and Frankfurt from February 3; Paris will be added March 29.
(AKZ) said that the economy (Y) sleeper class provides more comfort and allows passengers to rest and sleep in a lie-flat position by combining 3 economy seats. The economy sleeper class cabin is completely separate from business (C) and economy (Y) class cabins, with up to 12 seats available on each flight. Passengers also get an economy (Y) sleeper class kit, containing mattress, business (C) class pillow and duvet.
Additional benefits include priority check-in, 30 kg baggage allowance and lounge access.
Air Astana (AKZ) will decide next year if it will order either the Airbus A321neoLR or the Boeing 737 MAX-9 to replace its fleet of 5 757-200s and older A320 family airplanes, (AKZ) President Peter Foster said in Almaty.
(AKZ) operates a network of 60 international and domestic routes from hubs in Astana, Almaty, and Atyrau with a fleet of 30 Boeing 767-300ER, 757-200, Airbus A320 family and Embraer E190 airplanes, with an average age of 5-and-a-half years.
(AKZ) is a joint venture (JV) between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna and (BAE) Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%.
News Item A-3: Air Astana (AKZ) appointed Simon Rickman as Sales & Marketing Manager UK & Ireland. He is formerly China Airlines (CHI) Assisting Marketing Manager.
March 2015: News Item A-1: Spanish budget carrier Vueling (VUZ) and Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA) will launch flights to Saint Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport in the (IATA) 2015 summer season, despite Russia’s international traffic decrease.
According to a Pulkovo Airport statement, Vueling (VUZ) plans to start Malaga - Saint Petersburg Airbus A320 weekly services in May; services are expected to increase to 2x-weekly in June. (VUZ) currently operates flights to Saint Petersburg from Barcelona and Alicante.
Brussels Airlines (DAT)/(EBA) plans to launch weekly, Brussels - Saint Petersburg Airbus A319 services on March 30.
Russia’s Transaero (TRX) will launch flights to Shanghai; China Southern Airlines (GUN) plans to launch Urumqi flights and Ukrainian International Airlines (UKR) is expected to start flying from Odessa.
Aeroflot Group member Rossiya Airlines (SDM) will launch daily Saint Petersburg - Chisinau Antonov An-148 service, while Air Astana (AKZ) adds flights from Almaty and Astana. (SDM) will also operate 4x-weekly A320 service to Almaty and 3x-weekly services to Astana. Rossiya (SDM) is expected to increase the frequencies at these destinations.
The airlines are increasing the number of flights despite the international traffic decrease, which is due to the change of currency exchange rates. Local airlines are also increasing the number of domestic destinations and flights. In February, Russia’s regional carrier RusLine Airline resumed regional flights from Saint Petersburg to Belgorod, Ivanovo, Kirov and Yaroslavl. Red Wings Airlines (RWZ) is expected to start flights from Saint Petersburg to Grozny, Simferopol, and Makhachkala.
April 2015: Air Astana (AKZ) began 3x-weekly, Almaty - Astana - Paris Boeing 757 service.
May 2015: Air Astana (AKZ) on May 17th launched seasonal, weekly (Sundays) flights on the 3,531 km route between Kostanay (KSN) in Kazakhstan and Hannover (HAJ) in northern Germany - - see photo "AKZ-2015-05 - Kostanay to Hannover.jpg." The service will be flown by (AKZ)’s A320s until September 13th. According to Official Airline Guide (OAG) data Kostanay, located in the north of the country, offers domestic flights to Almaty and Astana, as well as international service to Moscow Vnukovo (with Transaero (TRX)), Minsk in Belarus (with Belavia (BLV)) and now Hannover.
July 2015: News Item A-1: "Air Astana (AKZ) sees (H1) Deliver a Modest Profit" by (ATW) Jeremy Torr, July 20, 2015
Khazakstan flag carrier, Air Astana (AKZ) has reported a first-half net profit for 2015 of +$8.3 million, compared to a -$36.4 loss in the first half of 2014 (an increase of +115%). (AKZ) said the results were due to cheaper fuel and other cost-savings measures, plus continued expansion with new routes from its home hub of Astana to Paris, Seoul, Bangkok, and Tbilisi, Georgia.
"Regional markets remain sluggish due to currency weakness and falling commodity prices," Air Astana (AKZ) President & (CEO) Peter Foster said. "So we do not expect 2015 to be a stellar year," he added.
In line with this prediction, (AKZ) reported that revenue for the first half of the year fell -9% compared to the same period in 2014, although passenger numbers increased by +4%, to 1.82 million.
As part of (AKZ)'s growth plan, it recently concluded an agreement with Air Lease Corporation (ALE) for 7 Airbus A320neos, including 4 Airbus A321LRs. Delivery of the new fleet additions is scheduled from the start of next year.
"Our low unit cost and expanded network will allow us to take full advantage of market recovery when it comes,” Foster said.
(AKZ) saw a net profit of +$19.3 million on revenue of $932.9 million in 2014, down -62% year-over-year from 2013, but due principally to a 19% devaluation of the Kazakh tenge in February 2014.
News Item A-2: Air Astana (AKZ) launched 3x-weekly, Astana - Seoul service with Boeing 767-300ERs, and 2x-weekly Tbilisi service with Embraer E190 airplanes.
News Item A-3 Air Astana (AKZ) has added a schedule to its 2x-weekly Astana - Beijing service. (AKZ) will now fly 3x-weekly using Airbus A320s.
August 2015: News Item A-1: Bangkok Airways (PGB) and Air Astana (AKZ) announced a new code sharing partnership. (PGB) serves 11 destinations in Thailand plus a further 13 in neighboring countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Singapore.
News Item A-2: Air Astana (AKZ) will optimize its network planning using the NetLine/Plan Information Technology (IT) solution from Lufthansa Systems (LHS). (AKZ) recently signed a five-year agreement for the solution.
October 2015: News Item A-1: Air Astana (AKZ) on October 25 resumed non-stop flights between Astana (TSE) and Dubai (DXB). The 3,175 km route will be flown 4x-weekly (Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays) using a mix of (AKZ)’s A320s and A321s. Competition on the route comes in the form of flydubai (FDB) which operates a 2x-weekly service between the two cities. Peter Foster, President of(AKZ), said: “Air Astana is fully committed to expanding the route network from Astana, with the re-launch to Dubai following the recent introduction of new services from the capital to Paris, Seoul, and Tbilisi. With Kazakhstan and the (UAE) enjoying strengthening links in business, finance, tourism and culture, I’m confident that the new service will be extremely popular with passengers traveling between Astana and Dubai.”
The 4x-weekly service will complement (AKZ)’s existing Almaty, Kazakhstan - Dubai service introduced in September 2014 after a four-year gap, as well as its 4x-weekly, Astana - Abu Dhabi service. It adds to its regional Middle East access through an existing code share agreement with Etihad Airways (EHD).
(AKZ)’s original Dubai schedule to Almaty was established in 2002 as its first international destination, but was canceled in 2010 after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced restrictions on the number of carriers from certain countries including Kazakhstan. Additionally, a European Commission (EC) blacklisting on all Kazakh airlines was put in place in 2009.
Air Astana (AKZ) was reinstated in April 2014 as an (EASA) safety-certified airline following a reassessment earlier that year. (AKZ) was also granted (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification in May 2015.
News Item A-2: Kazakhstan flag carrier, Air Astana (AKZ) will take 3 Airbus A321neos and a single A320neo on lease from AerCap (DEA).
“We have no doubt that the neo will prove an ideal intermediate range aircraft for us,” said (AKZ) President & (CEO) Peter Foster, announcing the lease agreement on October 5.
AerCap (DEA) (CEO) Aengus Kelly said the aircraft would primarily be deployed on (AKZ)’s longer-range routes to Asia and Europe.
This is a follow-on A320neo family commitment for (AKZ), which agreed to take 2 A320neos and 5 A321neos and LRs from Air Lease (ALE) in June. The 1st of the (ALE) A320neos is scheduled for delivery in spring 2016, followed by the remaining 6 aircraft in 2018 and 2019.
However, in June 2014, Foster said he was "hugely interested" in the potential for a revamped Boeing 757. “We think it’s a really, really good idea. We’ve always liked the 757. It’s done a great job for us. The A320neo doesn’t really do what we want, but it’s the best we can hope for,” he said in 2014, noting that a reconfigured 757 could potentially replace the A321neos, when they come to the end of their lease.
Air Astana (AKZ) operates a fleet of 30 airplanes, comprising 3 767-300ERs, 5 757-200s, 13 A320 family aircraft and 9 Embraer E190s, across its network of 64 international and domestic routes.
December 2015: News Item A-1: The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has removed Kazakhstan’s national carrier, Air Astana (AKZ) from the European Union (EU) Air Safety List.
Air Astana (AKZ) has faced restrictions on flying into the (EU) since 2009, but is now free to operate. However, other Kazakh carriers remain on the list, while Iraqi Airways (IRQ) has been added to it, following alleged safety lapses and failure to provide necessary documentation.
No Thai carriers have been added to the list, despite the (FAA)’s decision to downgrade the Asian nation’s aviation safety rating to Category 2, which will prevent Thai carriers from starting new services to the USA.
“The European Commission (EC) and (EASA) are willing to continue to work with the Thai authorities to enhance aviation safety in the country,” (EASA) said December 10. “The (EC) and (EASA) will, however, closely monitor future developments and, if the protection of air passengers against safety risks so requires, the (EC) could then propose to include one or more air carriers from Thailand in the Air Safety List.”
“(EASA) is encouraged by the Thai government's determination to resolve problems involving the kingdom's aviation industry,” added (EASA) Executive Director, Patrick Ky.
The updated (EU) Air Safety List (which will be published December 11) bars 228 carriers across 20 states from (EU) airspace. In those circumstances, airlines wishing to maintain a service into (EU) nations normally have to resort to wet-leasing aircraft and crews from a nation that meets (EASA) standards.
The updated list came as (EASA) met its partners from Asia, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East in Hong Kong to discuss global co-operation in aviation safety at the 5th meeting of the International Cooperation Forum (ICF).
The (ICF) is an exchange platform for aviation authorities and regional organizations that have adopted European aviation safety rules. Among topics being discussed in the 2-day meeting were technical advances in air traffic management (ATM) and emerging risks in cyber security.
See attached - "AKZ-2015-12 - Update-A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J."
January 2016: Kazakhstan authorities have postponed a mandatory requirement for domestic carriers to gain (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification by January 1, 2016, for local carriers operating domestic flights.
The requirement, which was mandated in 2013, was waived after becoming aware that three Kazakhstan carriers (Bek Air, ZhesAir and Zhetysu) had not met the deadline. All 3 airlines operate flights on 21 domestic routes, so the possible restrictions could potentially impact the domestic transport market negatively.
In December 2015, Bek Air started a public campaign asserting the (IOSA) certificate requirement is not legal.
Only 2 out of 6 Kazakhstan airlines (Air Astana (AKZ) and SCAT (VSV)) have achieved (IOSA) certification, the Ministry for Investments & Developments said on January 7. Recently launched Qazaq Air has a 2-year period to gain certification as a new company.
March 2016: "Air Astana (CEO): (IPO) Will Enable Further Expansion"
by Kurt Hofmann, (ATW) Plus, March 1, 2016.
Kazakhstan’s national carrier, Air Astana (AKZ) President & (CEO) Peter Foster welcomes the government and shareholders’ decision to plan for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2018, saying it “will be in the long-term interest of the airline and Kazakhstan,” Foster said. “The (IPO) will hopefully increase the company’s equity and capital base, thereby enabling further expansion,” he said.
April 2016: "Air Astana Opts for Inmarsat GX broadband for Boeing 767 fleet" by (ATW) Jeremy Torr, April 13, 2016.
(AKZ) will retrofit Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) high-speed connectivity equipment on its 3 767 airplanes from September 2016. The installation, to be implemented by airborne connectivity provider Rockwell Collins, will enable high-speed broadband access for personal computers, tablets and smartphones using in-flight data connectivity to the (GX) satellite system.
Air Astana (AKZ) Engineering Manager Andrey Gulev said the service will be made available on all 3 of (AKZ)’s 767s by the end of September 2017.
(AKZ) has opted for the Inmarsat (GX)/Ka-Band solution over the alternative Intelsat EpicNG/Panansonic Ku-Band offerings, possibly due to the improved coverage it offers on less heavily trafficked routes. (GX) lists up to up to 49 Mb/sec data rates, but EpicNG promises as high as 80 Mb/sec, although with potentially less global coverage. The installation will make (AKZ) one of the world’s 1st airlines in the world to offer operational connectivity with the (GX) system.
The airline has said it is looking to further expansion and a potential initial public offering (IPO) within the next 2 years, and the broadband implementation comes following improved profits last year (2015), with a jump from $19.3 million in 2014 to $47.4 million in 2015.
(CEO) Peter Foster said (AKZ) will use any cash injection to extend the long-term interest of the airline and to expand its overall operations.
July 2016: News Item A-1: Air Astana (AKY) reported a 2016 1st-half net loss of -$6.6 million, reversed from a +$8.3 million net profit in the first half of 2015.
(AKY) said the results were driven by a significant devaluation of the Kazakh currency Tenge compared to the 1st half of 2015, and by weaker regional travel markets in the wake of a commodity price drop.
(AKY) reported a 1st-half operating profit of +$0.975 million; operating revenue fell -30% to $275 million. Also passenger numbers decreased -7% to 1.69 million, compared to 1.82 million in the year-ago-period.
“The macro-economic environment has been and continues to be extremely challenging for all airlines operating in the region. However, we have been able to compensate to a large extent for a steep drop in revenue, particularly on domestic routes, by further reducing unit cost and by substantially increasing international transit traffic between Europe and Asia,” Air Astana (AKZ) President & (CEO) Peter Foster said, adding the interim result is better than expected under the circumstances.
Prospects for the rest of the year remain uncertain; however, there are signs that regional economies are adjusting to lower commodity prices.
“Further development of transit business over our Astana and Almaty hubs continues to be a priority,” Foster said. (AKY) recently launched flights between Almaty and Tehran, and will take delivery of its 1st Airbus 320neo later this year.
Established in 2001 between the Kazakh government and UK-based aeronautical conglomerate BAe, Air Astana (AKY) flies to >60 international and domestic routes from Almaty and Astana. It operates a fleet of 30 aircraft (including Airbus A320s, Boeing 767 and 757s, and Embraer E190s).
In 2015, (AKY) reported a jump in its annual net profit to +$47.4 million, more than doubled from $19.3 million in the previous year.
News Item A-2: Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana (AKZ) is aiming to boost its connecting traffic between Asia and Eastern Europe by up to 24,000 passengers by the end of 2017, following the opening of a new Almaty to Teheran route earlier this month.
The new Teheran 3x-weekly, Teheran to Almaty schedule uses Embraer E190 aircraft configured in a 2-class, 97-seat layout.
(AKZ) said it was particularly looking to boost connecting traffic from Almaty through to China, with up to 60% of the passengers taking the connecting services through from Teheran onward to Beijing, China.
Air Astana (AKZ) VP Marketing, Ibrahim Zhanlyel said (AKZ) also offers significant connectivity to other Asian destinations, such as Urumqi and potentially Ulan Batur, Mongolia, following the (ASEAN) Summit in Laos in July 2016. Zhanlyel added (AKZ) also plans for transit traffic element to make up a majority of the numbers on other routes throughout the Central Asian Republics.
(AKZ) expects >12,000 passengers on the Almaty to Tehran route by the end of 2016, with 260,000 transit connections by year-end compared to 180,000 at the end of 2015.
(AKZ) said it intends to boost its home hub at Almaty as a key Europe to Asia transit point with increased frequencies to other regional destinations such as St Petersburg, Russia to Almaty, and from Almaty to Kiev, Ukraine.
News Item A-3: Air Astana (AKZ) has launched 3x-weekly Almaty to Tehran Embraer E190 service.
October 2016: News Item A-1: Lufthansa (DLH) will begin commercial passenger services with Inmarsat’s (GX) for Aviation in November, followed by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Air Astana (AKZ). According to Inmarsat, (GX) for Aviation is the world’s 1st in-flight connectivity solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. It allows airline passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with an on board connectivity experience on par with broadband services available on the ground.
Inmarsat has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to appoint Satcom Direct as a global distribution partner for its next generation SwiftBroadband-Safety aviation service. A pre-agreement between the 2 companies has outlined the intention for Satcom Direct to supply aviation operators worldwide with SwiftBroadband-Safety, an advanced new service from Inmarsat that will transform cockpit and aircraft operations.
Honeywell Aerospace (SGC) has been appointed by Inmarsat to be a global distribution partner for its next generation SwiftBroadband-Safety aviation service. (SGC) is set to provide commercial airlines and business aviation operators throughout the world with SwiftBroadband-Safety, an advanced new service from Inmarsat that will transform cockpit and aircraft operations through the use of secure broadband connectivity.
November 2016: Air Astana (AKZ) has taken delivery of its 1st Airbus A320neo, becoming the 1st airline in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to operate the type.
January 2017: (S7) Airlines (SBR) Engineering in November 2016 performed a complete paint over of an Airbus A321 operated by Kazakhstan's national carrier Air Astana (AKZ).
February 2017: Air Astana (AKZ) President & (CEO) Peter Foster has detailed network plans for the year, saying (AKZ) will focus on operating as a “low-cost, full-service airline.” As a priority, Foster said the Kazakhstan carrier will push for more services into Russia, China, India, and Europe, increasing the number of 6th-freedom passengers via its main hub at Astana, which should double in size.
March 2017: A code share agreement between Air Astana (AKZ) and Lufthansa (DLH), beginning in March, advanced the Star (SAL) Alliance efforts to develop a relationship with the well-located Kazakhstani carrier.
The 2 airlines have agreed to begin selling tickets on each other’s flights between Frankfurt and the largest cities in Kazakhstan.
The agreement applies to flights to and from the Kazakhstani capital, Astana, and its business center, Almaty, Air Astana (AKZ) said. 7x-weekly flights for each carrier are covered; (AKZ)’s to Almaty and Lufthansa (DLH)’s to Almaty and Astana. Each airline will be able to double the number of flights it can offer to travelers.
All 3 global alliances have courted (AKZ) which has, so far, stayed independent. With the largest network in central Asia and growing connections with Europe and East, South and SE Asia, (AKZ) is regarded as a valuable potential addition to any alliance.
Its relationship with the Star (SAL) Alliance has become notably closer than with the others, since it has code sharing deals with Air India (AIN)/(IND), Asiana Airlines (ASA), Turkish Airlines (THY) and now Lufthansa (DLH).
The only members of another major alliance that Air Astana (ASA) code shares with are Skyteam (STM)’s Air France (AFA) and (KLM). Air Astana (AKZ) also has such arrangements with carriers that are not part of the big alliances: Bangkok Airways (PGB), Etihad Airways (EHD) and Hong Kong Airlines (CRY).
June 2017: News Item A-1: Air Astana (AKZ) has resumed flying between the Kazakh capital, Astana, and Kiev, Ukraine (3 years after suspending the service in the wake of the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, a Boeing 777-200ER. MH17, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board. Air Astana (AKZ) stopped flying between Kiev and Astana the next day.
News Item A-2: Kazakhstan’s Air Astana (AKZ) launched weekly non-stop Uralsk (Kazakhstan) to Frankfurt service June 14, using an Airbus A320 configured with 16C business- and 132Y economy-class seats.
According to the Almaty-based carrier, the new service is in response to “growing demand for international services to and from Uralsk to better serve the 230,000 inhabitants in the far west of the country. The region boasts growing economic production across the energy, mineral resource and mechanical engineering sectors. Agricultural production also plays an important role within the local economy,” (AKZ), the national carrier of Kazakhstan said.
Agreements with partner airlines will allow passengers in both directions to connect seamlessly in Frankfurt across flight networks in Europe and North America.
Air Astana (AKZ) VP Marketing & Sales Richard Ledger said the route plays a “vital role, connecting the region with Europe, from economic, social and cultural perspectives.”
(AKZ) operates flights to >60 domestic and international routes. Its fleet consists of Boeing 767, 757, Airbus A319, A320, A320neo, A321 and Embraer E190 aircraft.
July 2017: News Item A-1: Air Astana (AKZ) on July 3 commenced a 2x-weekly (Mondays and Thursdays) service from Astana (TSE) to Delhi (DEL) using its A320s. The 2,540 km route is not served by any other carrier.
(AKZ) already serves Delhi from Almaty (since 2004) with daily flights. This brings to 21 the number of international destinations served by (AKZ) from Almaty, of which 5 are in Russia. This new service will make it easier for Indians to visit EXPO 2017 which is currently taking place in Astana with the theme of “Future Energy”. For Delhi, Astana becomes the airport’s 130th destination.
News Item A-2: (OGMA) has completed the heavy maintenance program on 9 Embraer E190s for Air Astana (AKZ).
September 2017: News Item A-1: Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to increase the number of frequencies on several routes between the 2 countries.
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, announced the number of frequencies on the Moscow to Astana route will grow from 9x- to 12x-weekly from the (IATA) summer season 2018. The St Petersburg to Astana route will increase from 7x- to 10x-weekly from the (IATA) summer season 2018 (growing to 14x-weekly from the (IATA) summer 2019 season). Both sides will be able to designate a 2nd carrier, which is not affiliated with the airline already performing the flights on the route. St Petersburg to Almaty services will also increase.
In August, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic (represented by the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)) approved a roadmap liberalizing air transport between the union member countries from January 1, 2018.
News Item A-2: Air Astana (AKZ) has become the 1st airline in the world to offer Inmarsat's (GX) Aviation to passengers on board a wide body airplane, after the service went live on board (AKZ)'s initial Boeing 767. (AKZ) selected the next generation in-flight broadband solution through Inmarsat partner Rockwell Collins in a deal announced last year.
(GX) Aviation, the world's 1st in-flight broadband solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator, has already been installed on the 1st Air Astana (AKZ) Boeing 767. The service allows passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with advanced connectivity on par with broadband on the ground.
(AKZ) passengers will be able to choose from 3 connectivity packages: The Light option will cover 15 Mb, the Business option will cover 50 Mb, and the Super option will cover 100 Mb. All services are estimated to operate at an average speed of between 2 to 5 Mbps.
(GX) Aviation will eventually be available on all 3 of Air Astana (AKZ)'s Boeing 767s, with system installation on its 2nd aircraft planned be completed in October 2017.
Frederik van Essen, Inmarsat Aviation Senior VP of Strategy & Business Development, said: "(GX) Aviation has already entered commercial service on narrow body aircraft flights in Europe and the response from both passengers and cabin crew has been outstanding. As the only solution in the market today that has been specifically designed for in-flight broadband, it offers unprecedented speed, reliability and consistency. Offering (GX) Aviation on wide body aircraft was our next major milestone and we are delighted to have achieved that with Air Astana (AKZ) and our partner Rockwell Collins."
December 2017: Air Astana (AKZ) said it is destined to become 1 of the largest Airbus A320neo family operators in Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) over the next 3 years. (AKZ) took delivery of its 1st Airbus A320neos in November 2016, making it the 1st airline in the (CIS) to operate the type. The aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney (PRW) (PW1100G) geared turbofan (GTF) engines.
January 2018: "Air Astana Completes 767 Connectivity Roll Out" by (ATW) Victoria Moores (email@example.com), January 9, 2018.
Kazakhstan national carrier Air Astana (AKZ) has finished rolling out Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) high-speed connectivity on its Boeing 767 fleet. The 1st of (AKZ)’s 3 767s went live in September 2017. On January 8, 2018, (AKZ) confirmed that the sub-fleet has now been retrofitted with in-flight connectivity.
Both business (C) and economy (Y) passengers will be able to access the Rockwell Collins’ cabin system, with a choice of 3 connectivity options: Light (15Mb), Business (50Mb) and Super (100Mb).
(AKZ) opted for Inmarsat’s (GX/Ka)-Band solution over Intelsat’s EpicNG/Panansonic (Ku)-Band system.
Air Astana (AKZ) operates Boeing 767s on domestic trunk routes and high-density, long-haul routes out of Almaty and Astana.
February 2018: Air Astana (AKZ) posted a net profit of +$39.1 million in 2017, returning to profit after its 1st-ever loss in 2016. (AKZ), the Kazakhstan flag carrier carried 4.2 million passengers and recorded a +12% year-over-year (YOY) passenger growth. (AKZ)’s 2017 revenue came to $754 million, up +22% compared to 2016, after negative growth in both 2015 and 2016, following the devaluation of the Kazakh (currency) tenge in mid-2015. Cargo uplift increased +23% (YOY) in 2017.
March 2018: News Item A-1: Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana (AKZ) and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific (CAT) are introducing code sharing services on parts of their networks from March 15.
(CAT) will add its code to (AKZ) flights from Hong Kong to Almaty and from Almaty to Astana as well as from Seoul and Bangkok to Almaty. (AKZ)’s code will be on (CAT) services from Hong Kong to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Singapore.
(AKZ) currently operates 2x-weekly flights to Hong Kong and adds a 3rd frequency on March 25. The Bangkok service has 5 frequencies, but will go to daily on the same day. Seoul stays at 4x-weekly flights.
News Item A-2: Air Astana (AKZ) will launch daily Astana Nazarbayev to London Heathrow Boeing 757 service from June 1.
May 2018: Kazakhstan’s Air Astana (AKZ) opened a $19 million, 5,556 sq m Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility at Astana.
June 2018: Air Astana (AKZ) has launched 2 new links to Russia from Astana (TSE), commencing services to Tyumen (TJM) on June 2 and Kazan (KZN) on June 3. The 792 km Tyumen sector and the 1,551 km Kazan link will each be flown 3x-weekly. Both airport pairs will be operated by (AKZ)’s E190s and there is no incumbent competition on either route.
The latest network expansion coincides with the delivery of (AKZ)’s 2nd Airbus A321neo on June 2. The new aircraft offers 179 seats in a 2-class layout (28C in Business, 151Y in Economy) and will be operated on Air Astana (AKZ)’s domestic and international routes, including flights to Russia, Georgia, Turkey, the (UAE), Central Asia and China.
In total (AKZ) has ordered 17 A320neo family aircraft.
November 2018: INCDT: "Air Astana E190 Declares Emergency Over Portugal" November 11, 2018.
UPDATE: The aircraft reported it had landed safely at Beja Airport after 3 attempts. It stayed in the airport’s military area.
An Air Astana (AKZ) Embraer E190-100LR (653, /13 P4-KCJ) suffered a hydraulic failure and was circling around Alverca.
The aircraft, operating flight KC1388, departed from (OGMA) Maintenance in Alverca for a test flight at around 13:30 (UTC). However, around 5 minutes after takeoff, it showed anomalies in flight speed and altitude, reportedly descending >6000 feet in <2 minutes. It is very likely that the aircraft suffered a loss of hydraulics and an instrument failure.
There were 6 people on board including pilots (FC) and engineers (MT).
The captain (FC) had squawked 7700, which refers to a General Emergency situation, and had alerted with a Portuguese Air Force pilot that the aircraft was uncontrollable.
On their last communication, the aircraft was being escorted by 2 Portuguese F-16s and was attempting to land at Beja Airport.
December 2018: (Airways) magazine described how Kazakh flag carrier, Air Astana (AKZ) has taken delivery of the 1st of 5 Embraer E190-E2 aircraft, featuring an impressive "Snow Leopard" livery. The design follows Embraer (EMB)'s lead of painting predator animals on the nose of some of its E2 test airplanes. The 5 E190-E2s are coming in to replace older (AKZ) E1 generation planes, which joined (AKZ) in 2011. In addition, the airline boasts a fleet of 34 planes, of which 9 are A320ceo/neos, 7 A321ceo/A321neos, 5 757-200s, and 3 767-300ERs.
The 1st of 11 brand-new A320neos joined (AKZ) in November 2016, all in a lease from Air Lease Corporation (ALE). Even though Embraer came up with the idea to paint predators on the nose of its E2 airplanes by calling it a “Profit Hunter,” (AKZ)’s motive is slightly different. (AKZ) notes that the livery aims to draw attention to the threat of extinction of the wild cat—native to the mountain ranges in southern Kazakhstan.
“With the untypical snow leopard livery, (AKZ) is striving to bring global attention to what is an endangered species, raising awareness of environmental issues.”
The new aircraft flew all the way from Sao Jose dos Campos in Brazil, to Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport in Astana, with stops in Recife, Faro, and Aktobe (an 8,740-mile delivery flight).
(AKZ) plans to receive its 1st Airbus A321LR in April 2019, which will replace the Boeing 757. Foster expects its first commercial service will be to London in summer 2019. The Airbus narrow body will be fitted with 16C flatbed seats in business and 150Y in economy.
Just recently, in mid-November, an (AKZ) E190 was forced to perform an emergency landing after its crew (FC) partially lost control of the aircraft. Reportedly, flight KC1388 had to divert to Beja Airport in Portugal, after departing Lisbon, due to a complete loss of instruments, which caused its pilots (FC) to losing partial control of the aircraft. The plane had been in maintenance at Alverca Airport in Portugal since October 2, receiving a "C" Check.
March 2019: "Air Astana Builds (MRO) Capabilities, 3rd-Party Line Work" by James Pozzi (MRO-Network.com), March 06, 2019.
How Air Astana (AKZ) stands out among (MRO) providers in Central Asia.
Established in 2001 as the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, (AKZ) has a growing Maintenance operation servicing its in-house fleet and 3rd parties alike. Keith Wardle, Air Astana’s VP Engineering & Maintenance, discusses how it is cementing its (MRO) unit for its expanding fleet while growing line maintenance services for 3rd parties.
* What maintenance capabilities does (AKZ) possess?
(AKZ) has European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 145 approval to perform maintenance up to and including "A" checks, plus some limited base maintenance activities on its own fleet of Airbus A320-family, Embraer E190, plus Boeing 757-200 and 767-300 airplanes. We extend our approvals to customer airplanes and their engine types, plus we hold approval for customer aircraft on the A330, 737-700/-800, 747-400 and 747-8. Soon we will add the Boeing 777F. To further support our fleet, we have a strong workshop capability that we use for aircraft batteries, wheels, brakes, galley equipment, oxygen cylinders, cargo nets, cabin seats, nondestructive testing and structures.
Click below for photos:
AKZ-757 - 2015-07.jpg
AKZ-757-2G5 708-28112 P4-GAS 2017-04.jpg.jpg
AKZ-767-300 - 2018-01.jpg
AKZ-767-300ER - 2016-03.jpg
AKZ-767-300ER - 2016-04.jpg
AKZ-767-300ER AND 787-2014-06
AKZ-787-8 - 2012-02
AKZ-A320 1ST WITH SHARKLETS 2013-05
AKZ-A320neo - 2016-11.jpg
AKZ-E190 - 2012-09
AKZ-Embraer EMB-190-E2 Snow Leopard 2018-12.jpg
AKZ-F 50 2004-03
0 737-7Q8 (CFM56-7B22) (1011-30629, /01 P4-CAS; 1097-30642, /02 P4-DAS), EX-(SCA), (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED 2002-05. RETURNED. 20C, 94Y.
0 737-8Q8 (CFM56-7B27) (752-30627, /01 P4-BAS), EX-(SCA), (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED 2002-05. RETURNED. 20C, 136Y.
0 737-8S3 (CFM56-7B) (29250, TC-APH), (PSS) LEASED. RETURNED. 20C, 136Y.
3 757-2G5 (RB211-535E4) (708-28112, /96 P4-GAS, 2003-12; 830-29488, /98 P4-EAS, 2003-09; 834-29489, /98 P4-FAS, 2003-12), EX-(LTU) LEASED. WITH WINGLETS. 16C, 150Y.
0 757-2G5ER (RB211-535E4) (173-24176, /88 TC-OGD), (ABE) WET-LEASED 2004-12. RETURNED. 20C, 150Y.
0 757-200 (RB211-535E4) (22688, TC-OGH), (ABE) WET-LEASED. RETURNED. 20C, 150Y.
0 757-200, EX-(XIJ), (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED 2006-04. RETURNED.
0 757-225 (RB211-535E4) (117-22689, /86 TC-OGB "PERIHAN"), (ABE) WET-LEASED 2005-01. RETURNED. NOW WITH (ARW) AND CONVERTED TO FREIGHTER 2009-07. 20C, 150Y.
0 757-23N (RB211-535E4) (690-27971, /95 P4-KCU), (MALS) LEASED 2011-11. WITH WINGLETS. 16C, 150Y.
2 757-256 (RB211-535E4) (920-29306, P4-MAS; 924-29307, P4-NAS), EX-(IBE). 20C, 150Y.
0 757-28A (RB211-535E4) (782-28833, /97 P4-MAS), EX-(B-2852), (ILF) 5 YEAR LEASED 2007-04. WITH WINGLETS. 16C, 150Y.
3 767-3KYER (42220, P4-KEA, 2013-09; 42221, P4-KEB, 2013-10; 42223, P4-KEC, 2014-06), 30C, 193Y.
2 767-306ER (PW4062), WITH WINGLETS, 351 PAX, TO REPLACE LEASED 767S & PROGRESSIVELY REPLACE LEASED 757S. 28C, 190Y.
1 767-306ER (CF6-80C2B6F) (647-27612, /97 P4-KCA - SEE PHOTO; 661-27614, /97 P4-KCB, 2007-04), EX-(KLM), (ILF) LEASED. 28C, 190Y.
3/3 ORDERS (2017-02) 787-8 DREAMLINER:
0 A319-132 (V2524-A5) (3614, /08 P4-YAS), (ILF) LEASED 2008-08. 12C, 114Y.
1 A320-200neo (PW1100G) 2016-11, (DEA) LEASED.
1 +1 ORDER A320neo (ALE) LEASED.
6 +3 OPTIONS A320-200, 3 WITH SHARKLETS. 148 PAX, 16C, 132Y
1 A320-200 (V2500) - - SEE PHOTO - - (AKZ-A320 1ST WITH SHARKLETS - 2013-05), 16C, 132Y.
0 A320-214 (3131, P4-VAS), (BOU) LEASED 2007-05. RETURNED.
0 A320-214 (V2527-A5) (5613, /13 P4-KBB, 2013-05; 5734, /14 P4-KBC 2013-08), LEASED. WITH SHARKLETS. 16C, 132Y.
0 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (2016, /03 P4-SAS; 2128, /04 P4-PAS), EX-(ACH)/(AEF), (TCI) LEASED 2006-02. 2016; RETURNED. 16C, 132Y.
0 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (2828, /06 P4-TAS), (DEA) LEASED 2006-12. 16C, 132Y.
0 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (2987, /06 P4-UAS), (GCP) LEASED 2006-12. 16C, 132Y.
0 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (3141, /07 P4-VAS), (ALE) LEASED 2011-05. 16C, 132Y.
0 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (3484, /08 P4-WAS; 3519, /08 P4-XAS), (ILF) LEASED 2008-06. 16C, 132Y.
2 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (5401, /12 P4-KBA "MANSHUK;" 5613, P4-KBB "ROZA"), 16C, 132Y.
1 A320-232 (V2527-A5) (5968, P4-KBE), EX-(D-AUBM), (BOC) AVIATION (SIL) LEASED 2014-02. 16C, 132Y.
2 A321-231 (V2533-A5) (5357, /12 P4-KDA, 5404, /12 P4-KDB), 2012-12. 28C, 147Y.
2 A321-231 (V2533-A5) (1042, /99 P4-NAS; 1204, /00 P4-OAS, 2006-02 - SEE PHOTO), (DEA) LEASED 2007-05. 28C, 147Y.
3 +6 ORDERS A321neo, 2018-06. 28C, 151Y.
5 ORDERS A321neo, (ALE) LEASED, 28C, 151Y:
3 ORDERS A321neo, (DEA) LEASED, 28C, 151Y:
1 ORDER (2019-04) A321LR, TO REPLACE 757-200, 16C FLATBED SEATS, 150Y:
0 F 50 (PW125B) (20188, /90 P4-IAS, 2004-05; 20187, /90 P4-KAS, 2004-06; 20193, /90 P4-LAS, 2004-06; 20195, /90 P4-JAS, 2004-06; 20198, /90 P4-HAS, 2004-03; 20237, /92 P4-RAS, 2010-02). (AFTR) LEASED. 50Y.
6 EMBRAER E190-100LR (CF34-10E5) (P4-ACI - - SEE PHOTO - - "AKZ-2013-06 - PARIS AIR SHOW"), 9F, 88Y:
2 EMBRAER E190-100LR (CF34-10E5) (487, /11 P4-KCE; 543, /12 P4-KCG), (ALE) LEASED 2011-05. 9F, 88Y.
1 EMBRAER E190-100LR (CF34-10E5) (418, /11 P4-KCC; 431, /11 P4-KCD), JETSCAPE LEASED. 9F, 88Y.
5 EMBRAER E190-100LR (CF34-10E5) (537, /12 P4-KCF; 547, /12 P4-KCH; 604, /13 P4-KCI; 653, /13 P4-KCJ; 657, /14 PR-KCK), EX-(PT-TJL & PR-EED), (BOC) AVIATION (SIL) LEASED. 9F, 88Y.
1 +4 ORDERS EMBRAER E190-E2, 1ST IN "SNOW LEOPARD" LIVERY 2018-12. 2-2 LAYOUT: 12C SEATS IN BUSINESS; & 96Y IN ECONOMY CLASS.
Click below for photos:
AKZ-5-GERHARD COETZEE - 2013-09
NURZHAN BAIDAULETOV, CHAIRMAN.
PETER FOSTER, PRESIDENT, EX-(CAT)/(RBA) (2005-10).
Flightglobal Interview (2011-11) by Alex Thomas:
Kazakhstan's Tian Shan mountain range has witnessed a number of the country's state carriers come to grief beneath its jagged slopes. Yet, while the challenges associated with operating an airline in a Central Asian, former Soviet republic proved insurmountable for some, it is an environment in which Air Astana (AKZ) has flourished.
Since its maiden flight in May 2002, Air Astana (AKZ) has skillfully charted a course through complex bureaucracy, as well as a European blacklist on Kazakhstan carriers, to record a net margin of 13.5%, the 15th highest of any airline in 2010.
Tasked with nurturing the fledgling airline's growth in 2005, (AKZ)'s President, Peter Foster has seen it firmly established as one of Central Asia's 2 dominant carriers, while delivering profit margins many other (CEO)s can only dream of. He presides over an airline that has become the national flag carrier and whose fleet has expanded from 3 leased 737-800s to 26 airplanes. An expansion plan up to 2020 is expected to include an order for 3 787-8 Dreamliners, with purchase rights for 3 more. With 70% of (AKZ)'s revenue derived from Kazakhstan, (AKZ)'s future looks equally positive with the nation's average annual growth forecast by the Economist Intelligence Unit to accelerate to 4.4% from 2011 - 2020.
Yet (AKZ)'s future expansion will remain consistent with the approach that has already proved to deliver success according to Foster. "We're not size freaks, we don't believe we need to be a great big, all-singing all-dancing unit in order to play our part on the world stage. We are a Central Asian carrier fundamentally," he explained. Foster said that (AKZ) does not intend to compete with the giants of Asia and the Middle East: "We do not see ourselves as a becoming a mega carrier that's throwing its hat into the big east-west traffic movements." Instead, Foster said that (AKZ) will grow its business organically to serve the needs of the regional market and will not outpace the growth of the region.
Foster said that as long as the economics and politics are stabilized in some of the counties to the south of Kazakhstan, the country, and in turn Air Astana, will grow very strongly in the next 10 to 15 years.
The fleet will be expanded in 2012 by the purchase of 2 Embraer E190s, +2 more on operating leases, and 6 A320 family airplanes to be delivered over 2012 and 2013. It has also budgeted for the purchase of another 757. The Embraers will replace some of (AKZ)'s 6 Fokker F 50s on short routes, while it is also eyeing new-build 767s to replace its existing 757 and 767 fleet prior to the arrival of the 787s. The 1st of the 787s arrived in 2017.
"The 757 is a crucial airplane for us because being located equidistant between Asia and Europe, we have a lot of long routes, so we need an airplane with the legs of a 757 and the capacity of a 757," said Foster. He explained that "a larger airplane at the moment is too big for us, as the market remains relatively small. Our big issue is how do we replace these 757s in this interim period before 2019. We have a proposal out to both Boeing (TBC) and Airbus (EDS) as we're looking at the A330 and the 767, which has had a new lease of life even though the technology might not be the youngest in the industry, it will work very well for us."
Financial success has enabled (AKZ) to move away from operating leases and to purchase airplanes, which is a strategic priority for the Kazakhstan government that does not wish to be reliant on leased airplanes. Foster said that a forthcoming Initial Public Offering (IPO) is unlikely to generate enough money to fund the purchases and said that the airplane acquisition is going to be primarily funded through debt. However, he hoped that a 2nd listing in Hong Kong or London "within a relatively short period of time will place a good value on the airline and will enable us to raise money for new airplanes in capital markets".
(AKZ) is not part of an alliance, and Foster felt (AKZ) would currently stand to lose more than it would gain from joining 1 of the major groupings. "Because we're in this rather unique part of the world which is largely virgin territory, we don't have any desperate strategic need from a local competitive prospective. We don't really have any local competitors of the type of airline we are, therefore, at this particular point in time, we don't feel the need to limit ourselves to any particular alliance," he said. Instead, Foster prefers for (AKZ) to "work tactically" with code share partners such as Asiana (AAR), (KLM) and Etihad (EHD), while expanding commercial agreements with Lufthansa (DLH), Cathay Pacific (CAT), Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and others.
(AKZ) launched flights in late 2002, the result of a joint venture (JV), unusually involving an airplane manufacturer, (BAE) Systems. Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, turned to (BAE) and its then Chairman, Sir Richard Evans, when looking for a partner for the start-up of (AKZ) 10 years ago. (BAE) Systems had been targeting the region for potential infrastructure and defense opportunities.
While (AKZ)'s rapid expansion and profit margins are impressive enough, these accomplishments are made all the more so when the failures of Kazakhstan's previous flag carriers are remembered.
The main reason Foster gives as why (AKZ) has been successful where both Kazakhstan Airways (KAZ), the former Kazakh division of Aeroflot (ARO), and Air Kazakhstan failed, is its corporate governance.
"The only way that (AKZ) can be successful is by being financially independent, and the only way we can do so, is if we operate on very clear strict commercial principals," he said. Requiring no subsidy from the government, Foster said (AKZ) is able to run its affairs as a private corporation with staff rewarded accordingly. He said this has enabled (AKZ) to attract the talent it requires to be successful.
"I have worked for airlines that are pure and simple state industries that are reliant on government subsidies, and you just cannot retain those disciplines in organizations of that nature. It's just impossible," Foster said.
Foster believes that independence from state control is of crucial importance in a region where large organizations had become "vast bureaucracies of micro management".
"There is a bureaucratic framework that continues to exist in this part of the world which is something inherited from the Soviet Union," he says. "That framework is characterized by a large number of controlling bodies such as financial police and state prosecutor offices. These can be difficult to manage and deal with."
A traditional view in the region of airlines as extensions of ministries and governments, has also led to friction, particularly before the creation of the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund. The fund holds the government's stakes in Air Astana (AKZ) in addition to other state companies and retains Sir Richard Evans as an independent director.
"You can imagine the degree of resistance from the various ministries who suddenly found what they regarded as their industries being removed and placed into a corporate holding company," said Foster. At certain times (AKZ) found itself under pressure "to do certain things, with particular routes, take particular airplanes, hire particular people, but we have always resisted that and resisted that, very very firmly," said Foster.
A refusal to let terms be dictated to it characterizes not only (AKZ)'s dealings with government bodies but with the aviation establishment. (AKZ) won an injunction over Amadeus early in 2011 to reinstate a contract terminated by the Global Distribution System (GDS) provider after the two sides had failed to reach agreement on a replacement pact and Amadeus withdrew its service in January.
Explaining why (AKZ) decided to take on Amadeus, Foster said: "Amadeus had a very good run in this market, but we felt that market share and the profitability they'd been able to derive from this market was very much on the back of what we had achieved as the dominant carrier, particularly on domestic services, and we felt that status should be reflected in the fee structure."
The move paid off, and Foster said the new fee structure agreed with Amadeus has delivered "very significant savings to us, which couldn't have come at a better time with the oil price rises".
He was also keen to stress the efforts made by Kazakhstan's government to liberalize its economic system and business environment: "There have been enormous strides taken in this country to attract foreign investment and to set up a framework for economic and business legislation that is more akin to the west than the former Soviet Union."
Despite this progress, Foster felt that the Soviet legacy could still pose a threat to (AKZ). "There is one significant issue that's taking place in this region and that's the customs union, which is an attempt to create an economic space along similar lines to the European Union (EU), consisting of former republics of the Soviet Union," he said. Although Foster felt this would provide opportunity, he said that such a union would inevitably be dominated by Russia. Highlighting the threats this economic space could hold for (AKZ) he said: "There must be a level playing field in terms of state support and subsidization. We are a small airline that lives entirely within our own means with no subsidy, and we have to make our way through our own commercial abilities. We would not be in a position in the context of an economic union to compete with a vast and very heavily subsidized airline that was given complete access to our market. Our biggest single issue is the danger of one of the big union carriers being given free and unfettered access to our markets without the commercial discipline on which we have to operate."
While (AKZ) must wait to see how this situation develops, (AKZ) is able to engage another cloud on its horizon more proactively, the issue of the (EU) blacklist on Kazakhstan carriers. The ban was put in place after an (ICAO) audit in April 2009 highlighted glaring deficiencies in the regulatory framework of the country's Civil Aviation Committee (CAC).
Air Astana (AKZ) averted the fate of its fellow national carriers due to an air operator's certificate (AOC) and oversight provided by the Aruba Department of Civil Aviation. In addition, (AKZ)'s Maintenance and Engineering is carried out in accordance with (EASA) Part 145 certification and is audited twice-yearly by the UK (CAA).
Under the conditions of its reprieve, (AKZ) was prevented from opening new routes and frequencies to Europe, but due to timing, Foster said that the impact on the airline has been relatively low. "This all happened in mid-2009 in the middle of the recession. We had no plan to increase European services in any case at that time. Since then, we probably would have added the odd service here and there to Frankfurt or Amsterdam, but we wouldn't have done anything major in Europe in any event.
"China, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong are our major growth markets. The European ban is unfortunate and disappointing, but commercially, our focus in any event wouldn't have been on it."
However, Foster felt the issue remained a "Sword of Damocles" and said Kazakhstan had to get off the blacklist as soon as was possible.
To this effect, Foster said that together with other Kazakh carriers, (AKZ) has set up the Association of Kazakhstan Airlines (AKA). "This will be used to fund a foreign regularity authority, preferably European, to provide consultancy for the establishment of procedures, recruitment and skills that will enable the (CAC) and the agency to have their expertise taking us up to the level that will be acceptable to (ICAO)," he said.
Foster is unsure whether this would happen in time for the next (ICAO) audit in March 2012. "I think realistically there's going to be more time required, but hopefully the (CAC) will be able to demonstrate that there has been sufficient progress by next March so that a clear process of removal from those restrictions can be established," he says. In a best case scenario, he felt this could happen by the end of 2012.
While other airline chiefs might look enviously upon Foster's situation at the head of such a success story, Foster admitted his decision to join (AKZ) caused "some fairly serious raised eyebrows" from his former colleagues at Cathay Pacific (CAT) and elsewhere. "No one had really heard of Kazakhstan and certainly no one had heard of (AKZ)," he said. 6 years on, it is very doubtful anybody still questions the wisdom of that decision.
ALMA ALIGUZHINOVA, SENIOR VP PLANNING.
GERHARD COETZEE, SENIOR VP CORPORATE SAFETY & QUALITY ASSURANCE.
Gerhard Coetzee flew as a navigator for 17 years, conducted his 1st accident investigation in 1987 and has been managing Aviation Safety programs in the military since 1990 and in civil aviation since 2002. He was a (PANS-OPS) designer participating in (RNAV) (GNSS) procedure introduction in Africa. He also acted as a Crew Resource Management (CRM) facilitator and program caretaker for several years.
He holds a postgraduate degree in Transport Economics from University of South Africa and safety program as well as accident investigation qualifications from amongst others the (USC) and Cranfield.
THOMAS NICHOLS, VP FLIGHT OPERATIONS (firstname.lastname@example.org).
KEITH WARDLE, VP ENGINEERING & MAINTENANCE.
RICHARD LEDGER, VP MARKETING & SALES (2017-06).
Richard was formerly Director Worldwide Sales, Europe, USA & Canada, located in London
DIRECTOR WORLDWIDE SALES, EUROPE, USA & CANADA (LOCATED IN LONDON) (2006-06).
RICK LANG, VP SERVICE DELIVERY.
ASHENDRA LIYANAGE, VP COMMERCIAL (email@example.com).
ASKHAT BEISENBAYEV, VP FINANCE & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT).
AZAT BEKTUROV, VP DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS.
ERBOL OSPANOV, VP GOVERNMENT, CORPORATE AFFAIRS & SECURITY.
GERRY MITCHELL, DIRECTOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT).
CAPTAIN TLEK YERBULEKOV, FLIGHT OPERATIONS DIRECTOR.
CAPTAIN TALGAT BAKUBAYEV, CHIEF PILOT.
YERDAULET SHAMSHIEV, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER, CHINA & MONGOLIA.
DMITRIY KAPARULIN, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER RUSSIA & THE (CIS).
IBRAHIM CANLIEL, MARKETING & SALES DIRECTOR.
ANDREY GULEV, ENGINEERING MANAGER.
SIMON RICKMAN, SALES & MARKETING MANAGER UK & IRELAND, EX-(CHI) (2015-02).
Simon was formerly China Airlines (CHI) Assisting Marketing Manager.
MS OLGA PAK, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER.
ALIMAR AIMBETOV, MANAGER TECHNICAL PROCUREMENT.