ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s national airline, Air Astana, will soon get an infusion of cash in the form of a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) loan up to $14 million dollars, issued in tenge, according to a press release from the lender.
The EBRD plans to issue the loan to help fund the building of the country’s first aircraft maintenance facility and the first facility in Central Asia capable of providing maintenance for large aircraft. The maintenance facility will be located at Astana International Airport.
The EBRD-financed facility will include an aircraft hangar with offices and storage and a garage. The new facility will offer maintenance services not only for Air Astana but other airlines with large aircraft, according to the press release.
Currently, the closest facilities to fix large aircraft, including those operated by Air Astana, are located primarily in China and the United Kingdom.
Earlier this year the Astana International Airport received 8.5 billion tenge (US$27.6 million) from the EBRD to help modernise the airport in an effort to double its capacity and improve its safety standards to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements.
“The EBRD is very proud to finance two crucial projects in one year designed to bring the capital’s airport to a new level. We are also very pleased to cooperate with Air Astana, a company that deepens Kazakhstan’s connection with the rest of the world,” said EBRD Director for Kazakhstan Janet Heckman.
Air Astana President Peter Foster said, “Air Astana is very pleased to have signed this agreement with the EBRD. Over the past few years, the EBRD has expanded its already substantial presence in Kazakhstan to become one of the country’s leading international partners, adhering to the highest standards of international business practices. We see this relationship as a natural fit.”
The new maintenance facility is expected to create high-skilled jobs and Air Astana has already begun staffing efforts.
Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flagship carrier, is owned by the Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund and BAE Systems. It flies 64 routes out of Astana and Almaty.
The EBRD is the largest non-oil and gas foreign investor in Kazakhstan and economic diversification is one of the bank’s priorities in the country.