Kazakh airlines report passenger traffic spike

Kaxakh airports are faring significantly worse this year The growth should be further helped by Expo 2017, which is currently on in Astana (Leonid Faerberg / Transport-photo.com)

Kazakh airlines’ passenger traffic has been showing record growth so far this year, according to the country’s Civil Aviation Committee. This comes as an improvement over last year, when growth in the country’s passenger traffic came to almost a complete halt. In the first half of 2017, Kazakhstan’s airlines carried 3.2 million passengers, an 18.5% improvement year-on-year on the 3.9% growth registered for the same period in 2016.

The spike in traffic can be ascribed to an influx of international passengers into Kazakhstan as a result of Expo 2017, which is being held in the country’s capital city Astana. Peter Foster, CEO of the Kazakh flag carrier Air Astana, told Russian Aviation Insider that the airline’s passenger traffic increased by 68% in the first four months of this year, totaling 120,000 passengers.

In a separate development, Foster told Sputnik newswire that international traffic carried by Air Astana increased 30% in the first 20 days of the exhibition, which opened on July 10.

In early 2016, Foster predicted that Kazakh airlines would report low results for the year, which he attributed to a depreciation in the country’s national currency and to dropping prices of raw materials.

In contrast to the airlines’ impressive growth, Kazakhstan’s airports have actually fared worse this year. The results of the first six months of 2017 demonstrate that 5.9 million passengers used the country’s air gateways, a year-on-year increase of just 3.3%. This is inconsistent with the country’s attempts to increase passenger throughput by liberalizing international air transport.

The open skies regime implemented at Astana in anticipation of Expo 2017 was not put in place until May, and likely had a very small effect on Kazakhstan’s passenger figures for the first half of the year. Better results can be expected of the second half of 2017, especially since the government has decided to keep open skies in place at Astana after the exhibition has ended.

Cargo carried by Kazakh companies increased 28.9% in the first half of 2017, totaling 9,800 tonnes.

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