Kazakhstan carrier Air Astana is planning to open a hangar at its base at Astana airport. The new hangar, which is to be open by May or June of 2017, is planned to be used for maintenance, Peter Foster, president and CEO of Astana Air told Russian Aviation Insider at a ceremony for the arrival of the airline’s new Airbus A320neo this week. It will also enable the airline to offer maintenance services to other carriers.
Currently, the hangar is being built for maintenance purposes of the narrow-body A320 family, but it also will be capable of handling larger, wide-body airliners Boeing 767s and 787s, which are planned to be delivered to the carrier by 2019. The new service center will focus of carrying out light forms of maintenance, especially A-checks. The new hangar will also include special shops, which carry out wheel maintenance, avionics procedures, etc.
According to Foster, Air Astana is already capable of carrying out a lot of maintenance on its own aircraft. The question of whether or not the carrier is going to provide these services to its own Boeing 787 aircraft will be decided later on. Foster also mentioned that no other projects of such magnitude are currently being considered, but that this hangar will be capable of serving aircraft of other carriers.
The head of the project, John Wainwright, admits that the hangar project was originally set for 2015. The plan called for a second and third hangar. “The original plan called for the construction of one hangar per year,” according to Wainwright, “but because of the devaluation of the Kazakh currency in February of this year, we are constantly reconsidering and resetting our plans for the second and third stages of development. It will depend on the expansion of our fleet and route network. We do not want to build a massive complex with three hangars where we will need only one hangar.”
Air Astana took a $14 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in order to finance the project. The carrier also plans to build office and storage space, as well as a garage for technicians.
In May 2015, Air Astana’s engineering department opened a training center which corresponds to the standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This was the first of such centers recognized by European authorities that was opened in Central Asia. The carrier plans to open a training center at its new hangar to train new specialists in MRO procedures.
Currently there are 31 aircraft in Air Astana’s fleet, including Boeing 767-300ERs, Boeing 757-200s, Airbus A319, A320, A321, an A320neo and Embraer E190s. The fleet will increase to 36 by the end of 2017.
Kazakhstan’s national welfare fund, known as Samruk-Kazyna, owns 51% of the carrier’s securities. The remaining 49% belongs to British company BAE Systems. In 2018 Air Astana plans to carry out an initial public offering (IPO).
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