ASTANA – Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flagship carrier, announced the launch of a new economy sleeper class beginning Feb. 3 on selected international flights, including between Astana and London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris.
“In the framework of the ongoing process of updating services, Air Astana is glad to present a new economy sleeping class, which provides the high level of comfort and services of the business class at the fare of the economy class. I am sure that sophisticated passengers traveling from Astana to Europe will appreciate the new class,” said Air Astana’s Vice-President of Worldwide Sales Richard Ledger.
The official site states that passengers who choose the new class will enjoy a personal space with a guaranteed row of three economy class seats for each guest in the dedicated and partitioned section in the front of the economy class cabin. During sleeping time, the row of seats will be transformed with a mattress layer, duvet and pillow set. As a bonus, the airline provides passengers with KC-TV, a personal inflight entertainment iPad, access to Air Astana’s business class lounges and priority check-in, boarding and disembarking. Other benefits of the economy sleeper class include pre-assigned seating, a business class amenity kit and fully changeable and refundable tickets. In addition, the limit of the check-in baggage has increased to 30 kilos.
The introduction of the new class was implemented within the airline’s innovative extended home market strategy launched in 2010. The strategy aims at reaching beyond Kazakhstan to previously -underserved regional markets in Central Asia, southern Russia and the Caucasus in order to transform Astana and Almaty into regional hubs for passengers travelling within the extended home market of 75 million people, as well as to destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. To expand its geographic reach, the airline has also signed a number of codeshare agreements with international companies including Air India, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines.
Air Astana is the principal airline in Kazakhstan. In 2014, it was named the Best Airline in Central Asia and India for the third consecutive time at the World Airline Awards held at the Farnborough International Airshow. Air Astana also won Air Transport World’s Airline Market Leadership award for 2015, becoming the first ATW Industry Award winner from Central Asia. This year, Air Astana received the “E-commerce Market Driver” award at the event organised by the Kazakh Ministry of Investment and Development.
The airline reported an operating profit of $97.7 million in 2014, an increase of 35 percent over 2013 and the highest in the company’s 13-year history. Meanwhile, passenger traffic rose by 3 percent to 3.8 million.
Commenting on last year’s results, Air Astana President and CEO Peter Foster stated that “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 percent drop in unit cost and a rise in transit business to and from the region.” He also stressed that “continued regional political and economic uncertainty would lead to 2015 being a difficult year.”