Air Astana, Central Asia’s leading carrier, is marking the 19th anniversary of its first commercial flight from Almaty to Astana (Nur-Sultan) in May 2002. Throughout the period, Air Astana has innovatively adapted to numerous challenges and successfully delivered the very highest standards of passenger service, safety, operational efficiency and environmental sustainability. Passenger numbers have grown from only 160,000 in 2002 to more than 5 million per year prior to the onset of the global health pandemic in 2020. The network reached a peak of 60 domestic and international routes operating a young fleet of 34 Airbus, Boeing and Embraer airliners, with an average age of only 3.5 years. Air Astana’s success has been reflected in the series of awards received from SkyTrax, APEX and Trip Advisor over the past decade.
Air Astana took the strategically significant step of launching FlyArystan as Central Asia’s first Low Cost Carrier in May 2019. FlyArystan rapidly developed an extensive network of domestic services, together with international services to Georgia and Turkey. The airline has carried three million passengers over the past two years and recorded an average load factor, despite the pandemic, of more than 87%, with average on-time performance of 89%.
Air Astana’s spirit of innovation has been tested during the health pandemic, with a significant number of long-established international services either suspended or heavily curtailed in terms of frequency. The airline strategically responded by identifying new opportunities in different market segments, with the opening of new leisure services to destinations including Egypt and the Maldives, as well as new flights to Batumi and Kutaisi in Georgia. Pivoting from the airline’s traditional international model to one serving domestic leisure market demand has been successful and will be extended. This will include the launch of regular flights to Podgorica in Montenegro in June.
“Air Astana and FlyArystan’s respective slogans ‘From the Heart of Eurasia’ and ‘Eurasia’s Low Fares Airline’ perfectly encapsulate the spirit of our founder, First President Nazarbayev, who together with Sir Richard Evans of BAe Systems PLC took the decisions to launch Air Astana in September 2001, and FlyArystan in November 2018. I strongly believe that we remain on track in delivering their vision of a safe, service-oriented, profitable, sustainable and ethical airline group,” said Peter Foster, President & CEO of Air Astana. “I would like to thank our customers for choosing to fly with us, and my colleagues for their commitment to excellence.”
Air Astana has contributed greatly to Kazakhstan’s economy over the past 19 years, with total tax payments exceeding US$490 million. The airline has never received any state subsidy or shareholder capital beyond the initial investment, even in the midst of the tough operating conditions experienced during the global health emergency. Air Astana also continues to support local communities with its long-established social responsibility programmes.