Kazakhstan Reduces International Air Travel to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan will reduce the number of international flights in an effort to address the surge in coronavirus cases globally and prevent the rise of coronavirus cases in the country, reported Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service. 

A flight information display in Nursultan Nazarbayev international airport. Photo credit: Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee

The decision was made by the government commission on preventing the spread of coronavirus infection on Oct. 26. 

All arriving passengers in Kazakhstan, including Kazakh citizens, will also undergo a mandatory PCR testing, said the commission. 

Kazakhstan currently flies to Belarus, Egypt, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Uzbekistan.

Kazakh Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development said flights to UAE will be decreased by eight flights per week, Belarus by five flights per week, Germany by two flights per week, and Ukraine by two flights per week.

In its press statement, Kazakhstan’s airline Air Astana said it would cut the number of flights to Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, and the UAE. “The weekly frequency of flights to Istanbul will decrease from 16 to 12 flights, from 12 to 8 flights to Dubai, from 3 to 1 flight to Kyiv and from 6 to 4 flights to Frankfurt,” said the company. 

Kazakh Healthcare Ministry earlier recommended reducing international air travel. The Kazakh Civil Aviation Association, however, said the decision may adversely affect the industry that has suffered significant losses since March when all flights were suspended. 

“The Kazakh aviation industry was hit hardest by the continuing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the Civil Aviation Association, Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs and aviation enterprises have repeatedly asked the government to pay attention to the critical state of this industry,” said Association President Daulet Khamzin. 

Forecasts remain grim amid soaring coronavirus cases globally and risks of a second coronavirus wave. International air travel was resumed only by ten percent, but the domestic air travel that restored by 85 percent still weathers the consequences, according to the association. 

“Due to the quarantine, Kazakhstan’s airports experienced a 70 percent or more decline in revenue in the second and third quarters of 2020. Airport operators have taken all possible measures to reduce costs. Payroll and current purchases were cut by more than 50 percent, and capital expenditure was completely excluded. Infrastructure facilities and special equipment that are not used have been put on hold,” he said.  

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