NUR-SULTAN – Just when people were about to make their travel plans for the December holidays, the news came out about the new Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, that prompted countries to reimpose their travel bans. The Astana Times offers a guide on where Kazakh citizens can fly now to spend their holidays.
December is an important month for Kazakhstan that besides New Year has two other important holidays – Day of the First President on Dec. 1 and Independence Day on Dec. 16. But unlike previous years, the pandemic makes traveling more difficult.
Kazakhstan is flying now to 24 countries across 68 routes, according to inbusiness.kz. The most frequent flights are to Turkey (39 flights per week), the United Arab Emirates (47 flights), Russia (42 flights), Uzbekistan (32 flights), and Georgia (18 flights).
Europe is also partially open to Kazakh citizens, with airlines flying to Ukraine (7 flights), Germany (9 flights), the Netherlands (2 flights), and the United Kingdom.
Among the recent launches were flights between Almaty and Kuwait by Jazeera Airways starting from Dec. 1 and the upcoming resumption of flights from Almaty to New Delhi by Air Astana from Dec. 16.
With the emergence of the new Omicron variant, similar to other countries, Kazakhstan restricted travel from Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar, Eswatini, Tanzania, and Hong Kong from Dec. 3. It also now requires a PCR test regardless of vaccination and seven-day quarantine regardless of PCR test results for persons arriving from countries that confirmed the Omicron variant – Israel, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Canada.
The country also suspended travel to Egypt, one of the most popular vacation destinations among Kazakh citizens. Flights between Kazakhstan and Egypt were operated by Air Astana and SCAT airlines and there were nearly 2,800 citizens in Egypt when Kazakhstan announced new restrictions. They were scheduled to depart Egypt on charter flights from Dec. 3 until Dec. 10.