Air Astana Continues Route Growth

Kazakhstan’s national carrier Air Astana continues to expand its presence across Russia and the many former Soviet states that are now part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as it fleet expansion facilitates the expansion of its route network.  The carrier has recently inaugurated flights to the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek having already added flights during the first four months of 2013 from Almaty and Astana to Kiev and from Atyrau to Moscow after launching a new long-haul link to Ho Chi Minh via Bangkok in January and introducing a third weekly frequency to Hong Kong from Almaty in March, less than a year after launching the service.

The Kazakh airline, a joint venture between the Government and BAE Systems, celebrated its tenth anniversary last year and is now the most prominent airline in the Republic.  During the year it grew its revenues by 16 per cent to $870 million and its capacity by 14 per cent despite a difficult first half in which profit fell by more than 80 per cent.  During the 12 months the carrier retired its Fokker 50 fleet and became an all-jet operator, inducting an Airbus A320, two A321s and two Embraer 190s into its fleet, including its first ever directly purchased aircraft.

The second half performance was boosted by the strength of the CIS market and the strong performance of new services to China and Hong Kong.  Air Astana is now taking advantage of the strong demand for additional direct flights across the CIS as additional fleet growth further supports its network acceleration strategy, principally from the Kazakh capital Astana.  The airline this year is due to receive three new A320s, two E190s and two 767s.

The latest growth has seen the introduction of a three times weekly service between Astana and Bishkek.  The route, operated by a two-class E190 with seating for nine Business Class and 88 Economy passengers, was launched on April 23, 2013 and will complement the carrier’s existing five times weekly schedule to Bishkek from Almaty, a route which was launched in November 2008 and on which the carrier has carried more than 52,000 passengers.  The Astana – Bishkek city pair is current uncontested but more than 18,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled on the Almaty – Bishkek route last year.

“The launch off the new services between Astana and Bishkek is the latest step in Air Astana’s strategy of regional expansion,” said Richard Ledger, Director Worldwide Sales, Air Astana.  “In addition to direct traffic, the schedules of the new flights have been planned to encourage connecting passengers, via Astana, between Bishkek and Air Astana points in the Russian Federation, such as Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Omsk, and Moscow.  This new flight also enables passengers to connect from Kyrgyzstan onto the Air Astana network to European destinations, such as Istanbul and Frankfurt.”

For a long time Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan and the nation's largest city, has been the principal base for Air Astana but recent network growth at Astana means its network is now better balanced between the cities.  This summer, Almaty remains its dominant base with a 32.0 per cent share of flights and 34.5 per cent share of capacity, but Astana will have a 23.2 per cent share of departures and 22.1 per cent share of capacity.  According to the carrier’s schedules 31 destinations will be served directly from Almaty this summer versus 26 from Astana.

In the table below we highlight the top ten international O&D markets from the two cities.  The analysis shows that the Russian capital, Moscow, dominates traffic from both Almaty and Astana with notable traffic flows also to Abu Dhabi, Istanbul and Kiev.

Scheduled International Passenger Demand From Kazakhstan
(bi-directional O&D passengers; 2012)

Almaty International Airport (ALA)

Astana International Airport (TSE)

Rank

Destination

Est.Pax

% Demand

Rank

Destination

Est.Pax

% Demand

1

Moscow (SVO)

183,133

9.9 %

1

Moscow (DME)

81,214

11.5 %

2

Moscow (DME)

162,349

8.8 %

2

Moscow (SVO)

78,416

11.1 %

3

Urumqi (URC)

110,504

6.0 %

3

Frankfurt (FRA)

65,229

9.2 %

4

Istanbul (IST)

106,129

5.7 %

4

Istanbul (IST)

55,361

7.8 %

5

Abu Dhabi (AUH)

78,281

4.2 %

5

Kiev (KBP)

38,692

5.5 %

6

Tashkent (TAS)

73,054

4.0 %

6

Abu Dhabi (AUH)

37,999

5.4 %

7

Sharjah (SHJ)

64,852

3.5 %

7

Urumqi (URC)

34,229

4.8 %

8

Kiev (KBP)

64,628

3.5 %

8

Tashkent (TAS)

22,842

3.2 %

9

Beijing (PEK)

60,014

3.3 %

9

St Petersburg (LED)

18,926

2.7 %

10

St Petersburg (LED)

55,421

3.0 %

10

Vienna (VIE)

16,790

2.4 %

TOTAL

1,846,377

-

TOTAL

707,342

-

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