Kazakh flag carrier Air Astana celebrates seventeenth anniversary
Over the past 17 years, Air Astana has grown to become Central Asia’s leading carrier, with a reputation for the highest standards of safety, service excellence, innovation and a modern fleet. Since the first flight was performed between Almaty and Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) on 15th May 2002, the airline has carried a total of 44 million passengers and performed almost 500,000 flights. Air Astana’s route network currently extends to more than 60 international and domestic flights, with the fleet comprising of 34 Airbus, Boeing and Embraer aircraft.
Air Astana was established in 2001 at the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who set the task of creating a world-class airline to develop air transportation on domestic and international flights in compliance with international technical standards and providing the opportunity for training of Kazakhstan citizens.
The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UK company, BAE Systems PLC each invested US$17 million in the airline at the outset. Since 2002, Air Astana has paid more than US$435 million in taxes and other payments to the state budget and has created over 5,000 professional jobs. The growth of the company has been achieved entirely with internal and loaned funds, with no demands on the state budget, which makes the airline one of the most profitable state investments.
Air Astana continues to recruit young people who dream of becoming pilots under the airline’s ab-initio program. Since 2009, Air Astana has trained more than 200 young Kazakh ab-initio pilots at prestigious international flight schools.
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In May this year, Air Astana took a major initiative by launching FlyArystan, a low-cost airline. FlyArystan was created to stimulate the domestic market and attract a wider cross-section of the Kazakh population to travel by air and serve international destinations in the future. This year also marked the arrival of Air Astana’s second Embraer 190-E2 aircraft, with delivery of three further aircraft by the end of 2019. Deliveries of the new fleet of Airbus A320neo also continues, with 13 aircraft scheduled to arrive by the end of 2020.
Air Astana’s commitment to deliver the very highest levels of passenger experience has been recognized by the global travel website TripAdvisor for the second year in succession, with the airline being named as the best “Regional Asian Carrier” and best for “Passenger Comfort in Asia”. Air Astana is also a seven-time winner of the Skytrax award for the Best Airline in Central Asia and India.