NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan has strong potential for establishing itself as an attractive tourist destination and LOT Polish Airlines’s intent is to help people to discover Kazakhstan by providing quality service on airline routes, said Rafal Milczarski, CEO of LOT Polish Airlines in an interview to The Astana Times.
Milczarski said that the COVID-19 pandemic was a major disruption to the whole airline industry and it became evident that airline businesses would have to rapidly adapt to the changing nature of the world. But with uncertainty comes opportunity, so “the pandemic inspired us to pay more attention to other business segments, tourism, in particular,” said Milczarski.
“If you think about what tourism is, it is about finding something that people don’t know. That search for novelty is best experienced through tourism: by going and seeing places, meeting people, and getting to know their culture. It’s going to be an important factor in the future of aviation,” said Milczarski. “In a lot of industries, it is possible to work remotely from home. But when it comes to experiences, you can’t really enjoy it from home.”
Business-related routes will remain a great focus, he said, “as it always has been.”
When it comes to tourism in Kazakhstan, Milczarski sees great potential for development. “The nature of Kazakhstan, the kindness and hospitality of the people of Kazakhstan, and Kazakh cuisine have amazing tourist value. We would like to help Central Europe to discover Kazakhstan not only as a business destination but also as an important attractive tourist destination,” said Milczarski.
The LOT Polish Airlines have a very keen interest to expand flight routes from Warsaw to Almaty in the future. “For a lot of people in Europe, it’s very difficult to see a real winter. Over the last 10 years in Poland, there have been winters with hardly any snow. And this is something that can become a very unexpected attraction for a lot of people from Europe,” said Milczarski referring to resorts near Almaty that have attractive skiing and hiking destinations that offer a wide range of activities and beautiful landscapes.
Nur-Sultan has also great tourism potential according to Milczarski. “It was amazing to see how within 20 years the capital was built from scratch. Nur-Sultan now is a big, efficient, and interesting city, so I think this is an attraction in itself.”
Historically the flight between Warsaw and Nur-Sultan has been an important route for Polish people living in Kazakhstan to travel to their homeland and for people traveling for business purposes. It has now evolved to become one of the most convenient routes for people from Kazakhstan to fly to Central and Western Europe.
LOT Polish Airlines and Kazakhstan have partnered for over four years. Diplomats of both countries played a significant role in establishing that relationship. Milczarski highlighted the contribution of Altay Abibullayev, former ambassador of Kazakhstan to Poland, in initiating the Warsaw – Nur-Sultan flight and recognizing what a huge potential this route has for both the Polish and Kazakh people. The flight has become a strategically important route that connects Central Asia with Central Europe.
The relations between LOT Polish Airlines and Kazakhstan got stronger during the pandemic, when Nur-Sultan airport offered itself as a hub for many air companies, including LOT Polish airlines, to recharge their aircraft and change crews.
“During the pandemic, we performed a very important duty of bringing a lot of cargo with protective medical facilities from China into Poland. The direct journey to China and back was too long for one crew, so we had to exchange crews at Nur-Sultan. Our pilots and flight attendants stayed at Nur-Sultan hotels and enjoyed great hospitality. There was a huge number of flights that were going from various locations in China to Nur-Sultan with the necessary provision that was then delivered to Poland,” said Milczarski. “Kazakhstan helped us perform the necessary responsibilities and necessary transportations for the benefit of Polish health workers and Polish people. For that, I’m very grateful and I want to say a big thank you.”
Talking about their plans, Milczarski mentioned the important role an advancement in technology and customer experience quality will play in the future. Major upgrades will be made in the operating system of the airline, which includes the sales systems and website architecture. All upgrades will provide an attractive value proposition and quality service for customers.
Milczarski also congratulated all people of Kazakhstan on the 30 years of independence that Kazakhstan celebrated on Dec. 16. “I would like to extend my best wishes to all the people of Kazakhstan, congratulate you on the 30 years of independence, and on being able to govern yourselves in a strategic and well thought out way. I would like to wish you all success and happiness. I think Kazakhstan has a great and bright future ahead.”