Kazakhstan Considers Resuming International Flights, Opening Borders

Kazakhstan is considering the possibility of resuming international flights. On June 1, the governmental commission on the prevention of the spread of coronavirus allowed to explore the proposal to resume flights to South Korea, China, and Azerbaijan.

In 2019, Kazakh airlines carried more than 8.6 million passengers, said the minister, nine percent more compared to 2018. Photo credit: Nursultan International Airport press service.

“Why these three countries? First, the assessment was based on the COVID-19 epidemiological situation. There is an international ranking of countries with COVID-19 and the decision was made upon reviewing this list,” said Beibit Atamkulov, Kazakh Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development. 

The next stage will be to consider resuming flights to Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Thailand, Turkey, and possibly Poland and Hungary starting on the 15th of June.

“I am constantly in touch with my colleagues. We have recently discussed the situation with the Minister of Transport of Turkey. They set June 20 as a date for themselves and they are also interested in resuming flights to Antalya. We will be working closely to explore these possibilities,” said Atamkulov.

The work is being carried out with the country’s Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Currently, only flights returning Kazakh citizens from abroad and transporting foreign citizens out of the country as well as humanitarian aid are still in operation. 

In 2019, Kazakh airlines carried more than 8.6 million passengers, said the minister, nine percent more than compared to 2018. The country’s airports provided services to nearly 17.7 million passengers. Over the past seven years, the number of transit passengers grew by 45 times, reaching 1 million in 2019. In the past three years, Kazakh and foreign airlines launched 19 new routes, including Tokyo, Warsaw, Budapest, and Helsinki.  

Kazakhstan’s Chief Sanitary Doctor for Transport Sadvakas Baibagulov, however, cautioned citizens to postpone their plans, as countries have not yet resumed regular flights.

“The reopening of international flights does not need to happen in a hurry. In the overwhelming majority of European countries, in South-East Asia and China, there are restrictions for arriving passengers. Passengers are required to observe a 14-day quarantine. This is a requirement in almost all countries. Each country has its own restrictions, social distancing, presence of COVID-19 certificate, among other things,” said Baibagulov. 

The aviation industry suffered significant losses due to the pandemic and to support the industry, the government announced tax breaks. But that’s not all, the legislature is also considering a 10 percent reimbursement of investment in construction and reconstruction of tourist facilities and the provision of preferences, subsidizing the costs of tour operators for each foreign tourist, reimbursing 100 percent of domestic ticket fares for children and reimbursing up to 25 percent of the overhead costs of businesses needed to construct and maintain roadside service facilities.

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