Kazakhstan airline Air Astana has received its first remotorised single-aisle Airbus A320neo aircraft and became the first operator of the type in the CIS region. The airframe was leased by Air Lease Corporation (ALC), the corresponding contract had been signed at the airshow in Paris in 2015.
According to Peter Foster, Air Astana President and CEO, the enhanced economic efficiency of the aircraft will help the company to enter the Chinese and South Eastern Asia markets more actively. “The Kazakhstani market is experiencing hard times, the regional market is also in a challenging situation, that’s why we hope that A320neo will allow us to open new destinations – to China and Indian subcontinent” – he told Russian Aviation Insider during the aircraft delivery ceremony in Toulouse.
The process of aircraft customs clearance in Kazakhstan is claimed to take about a week, technical diagnostics and preflight preparations will take some more time and in the second half of November the aircraft will carry its first passengers on Astana – Almaty flight.
The aircraft is equipped with turbofan geared Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines. The aircraft is designed to carry 148 passengers with 16 business class seats and 132 in the economy class, the manufacturer reports. The aircraft with such cabin layout has an accessible flight range of 6842 kilometers.
Initially the delivery of the first A320neo was scheduled on May 2016, however due to financial and organizational reasons the event was postponed by five months.
All in all Air Astana will receive 11 A320neo aircraft. The contract with ALC stipulates the delivery of two A320neo, one A321neo and four A321neo-LR (long-range version). Foster did not disclose the financial conditions of the deal calling it a classic one. According to him, the leasing period will last eight to ten years.
The Kazakhstani carrier will receive another four airliners – three A321neo and one A320neo after 2020 under the contract with AerCap.
By Alexander Gabchenko
Russian Aviation Insider
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