Increased handling charges at a southern Kazakh airport owned and managed by a rival air enterprise, has prompted FlyArystan, Kazakhstan’s only low-cost carrier (LCC), to terminate its flights there.
In the course of preparations for the hoped-for post-COVID-19 crisis resumption of flight schedules, FlyArystan has announced the suspension of air services between both Almaty and Nur-Sultan to Taraz (IATA code: DMB), an airport located in the south of the central Asian country.
The airline, a no-frills division of the country’s flag carrier Air Astana, says the decision has been made in the context of the current coronavirus crisis after which FlyArystan will focus on “the most economically viable destinations” when the travel restrictions are finally lifted.
The low-cost airline initiated its Almaty-Taraz services in May 2019 and Nur-Sultan-Taraz followed in October of that year. In the fourth quarter of 2019, DMB saw its year-over-year passenger volumes increase by a massive 673 per cent primarily as a result of the FlyArystan operations, the airline claims.
The LCC explains that Taraz has become a very popular destination and, since the commencement of its operations to the southern city located near the Kyrgyzstan border, it has transported more than 143,000 customers to and from the airport, with an average aircraft load factor of 91 per cent.
Nevertheless, FlyArystan considers Taraz to be a highly price-sensitive market, one in which the air fares that customers are willing to pay for travel have not always covered basic flight-related expenses.
FlyArystan spokeswoman Lyazzat Nabiyeva has told ATO.ru, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication that, even though there is a clear demand from people in the region for the routes, the handling fees at the local airport are now far too expensive. “We hoped that the airport would not raise its fees, but they raised them in 2020,” she adds.
The owner-operator of Taraz airport is SCAT, the private Kazakhstan airline, which is a competitor to Air Astana and FlyArystan.
Meanwhile, when asked when FlyArystan will resume its operations ceased in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Nabiyeva said only: “There will soon be an official message with all the details.”
From May 1, the Kazakh government approved the re-start of flights on just one route, the nation’s key air link between the capital city of Nur-Sultan (previously Astana) and Almaty. Air Astana, SCAT and Qazaq Air, three of the country’s larger airlines, have now resumed operations on the route.
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