Kazakh airlines carry 5.6 million passengers in first eight months of 2019

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh airlines carried 5.6 million passengers in the first eight months of 2019, showing a 1.8 percent increase over 2018, said Kazakh Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Beibit Atamkulov at an Oct. 7 government session, reported primeminister.kz.

The government meeting. Photo credit: primeminister.kz.

The growth is attributed to the launch of new routes and of the FlyArystan low-cost airline.

Kazakh airlines have also expanded the geography of their international routes. Among the latest additions were flights to Tokyo, Prague and Ulaanbaatar from Nur-Sultan operated by Shymkent-based SCAT airlines. 

“Kazakhstan has direct flights to 26 countries and 99 international routes. This is 430 flights per week operated by 26 foreign and three Kazakh air carriers. Several years ago, three foreign airlines (Austrian Airlines, Czech Airlines, KLM) suspended their flights to our country due to commercial reasons,” said Atamkulov. 

Atamkulov noted Qatar Airways, Emirates, China Eastern and Ural Airlines plan to launch routes to Kazakhstan next year. The ministry continues working to make the country more attractive to foreign air carriers, he added. 

The number of transit passengers also reached 642,000 in eight months and is expected to reach 1.6 million by the end of the year. 

For short-haul domestic flights, Kazakhstan launched the FlyArystan low-cost airline in May. 

The airline sold more than 450,000 tickets since its launch. Close to 60 percent of the tickets were sold at the airline’s lowest tariffs below 10,000 tenge (US$25.7). 

FlyArystan will open new routes to Pavlodar, Semey and Shymkent with the fares starting at 5,999 tenge (US$15.4). It also plans to launch routes to all regions in Kazakhstan and its first international route to Moscow before the end of 2020. 

The launch of FlyArystan, a subsidiary of Air Astana, was meant to “respond to the societal needs.”

“Every citizen can afford using the services of the new airline. If currently there are two aircrafts in the fleet, the fleet will include 10 modern aircrafts in 2020,” said Air Astana President Peter Foster. 

He said the airlines are expected to sell 520,000 tickets at prices lower than 15,000 tenge (US$) in 2019. The number, he noted, will grow five-fold in 2020. 

The new airline, said Foster, generated the surge in air travels. In eight months, the growth was more than 142 percent in Taraz, 44 percent in Karaganda, 41 percent in Pavlodar, 27 percent in Shymkent and 22 percent in Uralsk. 

Atamkulov said the fuel production increased to 694,000 tonnes, a 1.8-time growth over 2018, and, if needed, the production volume can be increased to 850,000 tonnes. 

The modernisation at the country’s two major oil processing plants in Atyrau and Pavlodar allows to meet the domestic demand for jet fuel. 

The share of imported air kerosene in the country will decrease from 60 percent in 2018 to 4 percent in 2019. 

Prime Minister Askar Mamin urged during the government meeting officials to accelerate work to launch routes to Shanghai and Singapore in 2020 and complete the accreditation procedures that will allow Kazakh airlines fly to New York. He also instructed to finish the reconstruction of a runway at the Kostanai and Balkhash airports and the construction of an airport in Turkestan and a new terminal in Shymkent. 

To bolster regional and domestic connectivity, Mamin set the task to ramp up procedures to launch the open skies regime for foreign air carriers. 

Atamkulov said the ministry is also considering introducing the regime, which was first launched at the capital airport during EXPO 2017, at the airports in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Pavlodar, Kokshetau, Taraz, Petropavlovsk and Semei.