Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Dec Jan2011 2012. Contents AsianAviation | DECEMBER 2011 / JANUARY 2012 37
operations currently account for 40 percent of
revenue, Foster says this market is growing fast.
In December 2011, flights from Almaty to
Bangkok, Delhi and Kuala Lumpur will each be
increased by one weekly frequency to ve, four and
three times weekly respectively. A new, twice-weekly
ser vice to Hong Kong will be launched in February
2012 and a new winter-season only ser vice to Ho Chi
Minh City will also be added in October 2012.
According to Foster: "Immediate frequency increases
on existing ser vices and the launch of new ser vices to
Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City in 2012 re ect the
fact that Asia is playing an increasingly important part
in the strategic long-term development of Air Astana."
Eventually, the carrier plans to operate twice daily to
Beijing and Urumqi and a daily ser vice into Bangkok.
In the Middle East, Air Astana ser ves Abu Dhabi
and is looking to add ser vices, possibly to Amman.
Foster believes tra c to Israel is better ser ved through
Amman than with a direct service.
Unlike many airlines that are increasingly out-
sourcing engineering jobs, Air Astana is planning to
acquire the expertise to maintain its own eet. While
it provides line maintenance for various foreign
carriers, it does not actively pursue third-party work.
Even so, it has carried out maintenance for Cargolux,
Berkut, Delta Air Lines, SCAT and Prime Aviation.
Air Astana s engineering division is currently being
approached by eight Kazakh airlines for long-term
Engineering Group Senior Vice-President John
Wainwright con rms that negotiations are on-going
to lease a hangar in Almaty and acquire land in Astana
for a new hangar, with a view to being able to perform
C-checks on the airline s A321/A320/A319 and
E-190 eet. Docking systems and spares are being
acquired for this development.
e engineering division is currently only able
to perform A-checks for the carrier s 767s and the
existing hangar at Almaty cannot fully accommodate
the widebody aircra . e new, two-bay hangar will
have one bay dedicated to performing C-checks while
the other bay is kept available for line maintenance.
Air Astana is providing an 18-month engineering
training programme in conjunction with a local
training academy. is involves on-the-job training
and eventually produces high-calibre engineers.
e carrier also sends engineers to Bristol, UK, for
Due to the monopoly that exists in other areas of
airport management and operations, Air Astana
faces challenges in areas such as ground handling and
terminal facilities at its hub.
e terminal building at Almaty is severely limited
in its scale and facilities. Its four aerobridges are far
from adequate in coping with Air Astana s expanding
operations, especially in winter, and the airline does
not have its own lounge facilities for passengers
travelling in premium classes.
Wainwright says: "We su er from this inadequacy
in facilities, as passengers do not make a distinction
between the airline and airport." Baggage handling
is another area that sorely needs improvement. "In
Astana it is better, but here in Almaty, we su er. It
can be frustrating sometimes, but we are hopeful that
things can improve," Wainwright adds.
When the Soviet Union broke up 20 years ago,
Kazakhstan s economy was the second weakest
among the republics. Today, it has grown to become
the second strongest, continuing to attract more
airlines -- including Middle Eastern operators, such
as Qatar Air ways and Etihad, and Chinese carriers
such as Hainan Airlines and China Southern
"We expect more competition, but it is not
something we worry about," Foster says. rough
the development of a hub-and-spoke network that
feeds its growing international ser vices, Foster sees
Air Astana growing in stature and developing into the
Central Asian equivalent of a Cathay Paci c Air ways
or Singapore Airlines.
Foster notes that Air Astana has developed a good
working relationship with Germany s Lu hansa and
South Korea s Asiana Airlines, both of which are
members of the Star Alliance global airline grouping.
"[ Joining ] Star Alliance seems a possibility ... but we
are in such a strong position in this region that we
may not need an alliance -- and membership in any
alliance may shut out co-operation with some other
airlines," Foster says.
Passengers ying on Air Astana today are mostly
business travellers and Kazakh citizens travelling
Of late, tourism is increasingly perceived
as an important growth industry. Kazakhstan
has a diverse landscape, ranging from extensive
grasslands to spectacular sand dunes in the deserts
and mountains rising above 4000m. Its historic
Islamic centres boast beautiful architecture and
inbound tourism could indeed eventually provide
the second wind to power the further growth of
this already successful airline.
is augurs well for Air Astana s plan for an Initial
Public O ering (IPO) in 2012, as part of the Kazakh
government s initiative for locals to acquire stakes in
national companies. Air Astana s strong reputation
and good corporate governance has earned it a place
in the rst wave of the 'People s IPO and the airline
also eventually hopes to gain listings in London or
In spite of the turbulence a ecting the global
economy in recent years, Air Astana has remained
pro table -- even at a time when the largest airlines
bled red ink. e carrier s measured growth has
produced substantial results and the company,
which has hitherto remained under the radar of
the world s most aggressively-expanding carriers,
is coming into its own as it approaches its tenth
"We suffer from this
inadequacy in facilities, as
passengers do not make a
distinction between the airline
and airport." -- Air Astana
Engineering Group Senior Vice-
President John Wainwright
Air Astana Profits / Passengers Carried
Net Income (in US$) Passengers
Air Astana may acquire six additional Boeing 767s while
it waits for the US manufacturer s new 787 'Dreamliner .
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