ASTANA – In a recent interview with The Astana Times, Aviata.kz co-founder and development director Alexey Li talked about the evolution of the Almaty-based online service for airplane tickets, customers’ travel preferences, popular destinations and flight costs before and after tenge devaluation.
Aviata.kz allows travellers to independently pick a convenient flight and time, book a ticket and make a payment without having to wait in line.
The company is celebrating its third anniversary this year. During this period, Aviata.kz has shown steady growth and become the largest company in the online travel agency segment in the country.
“Only one month – September of last year – we had a decline in turnover, but due to obvious reasons. This doesn’t mean we settled down and just went with the flow. We managed to offer the market an in-demand product at one time and developing it in accordance with trends and demands is our task now,” said Li.
The company believes in the potential of creating a mobile app. By using the website, one can also take out an insurance policy, purchase rail tickets and book a hotel. This, according to the director, “saves users’ time and they value it.”
More than 15,000 flight tickets are purchased via the online service every month. With the onset of summer, the company has doubled the sales, selling in excess of 30,000 tickets monthly.
“Numbers speak for us. … Speaking in clear language, we fill about three airplanes daily. According to our estimates, the market share of Aviata.kz amounts to 60 percent,” said Li.
He added being one of the first online flight ticket booking services in Kazakhstan played a big role in the service becoming popular among customers. The company was in time to form its own client base.
From the very beginning the greatest demand was for domestic flights and little has changed, according to Li. Almaty–Astana and Astana–Atyrau are the most popular routes.
“It is interesting how purchasing behaviour of people changes due to growing competition. When the choice was available only between direct ticket sales by an airline company or an air ticket office, a decision was made in favour of the cheapest option. Today, we already can’t compete on a price level. Service is important here; the experience that a customer receives by interacting with the company and not the 300-500 tenge (US$.80-1.40) difference,” he said.
Kazakhstan residents frequently flew and continue to fly to Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kiev, mostly for work, said Li. Barcelona, London and New York were popular vacation spots last summer, with Istanbul being at the top of the high demand destinations.
“We have not observed a sales slowdown on flight tickets in our statistics section. People in Kazakhstan simply began opening new destinations for themselves. Probably everyone noticed how Georgia is popular this year. No need for any figures even; scrolling down a Facebook feed is enough,” he added.
Azerbaijan has also become a more preferable destination. Dubai was previously thought to be mainly a wintertime destination, but is now in demand all year round.
Li indicated ticket pricing depends directly on the dollar rate. Thus, last year’s devaluation and exchange rate jumps affected the process.
If, on average, an international flight was 74,277 tenge (US$210.90) and a domestic flight 20,680 tenge (US$58.70) last July, this year the price changed to 108,214 tenge (US$307.30) for international and 27,822 tenge (US$79) for domestic flights.
“However we are not comparing specific destinations, but only an average bill,” he noted.