Kazakhstan’s SCAT Airlines flies to EU

SCAT Airlines SCAT has launched services between Astana and Vilnius, Lithuania (SCAT Airlines)

Having been formally recognised as a Third Country Operator (TCO) by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) last year, Kazakh private carrier SCAT Airlines has commenced flights to the European Union.

The new bi-weekly scheduled service links Astana with the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius and is just the beginning of an ambitious plan to launch up to 14 new routes to destinations across Europe, challenging the country’s flagship carrier Air Astana, the only other Kazakh airline approved by EASA.

A source at Vilnius Airport has advised ATO.ru, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication that the airline was supported by the Lithuanian Route Development Fund, a 2013 brainchild of the country’s Communications and Transport Ministry. The fund, co-financed by public and private entities, encourages the development of new routes which are beneficial for Lithuania, but also come with commercial risks, allocated €200,000 for the launch of the service.

“The route between Kazakhstan and Lithuania is a major milestone in the airline’s history. The aim is to create a strong air link between Kazakhstan and the Baltic states,” Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Committee points out.

Further plans include launching flights to Milan, Vienna and Prague, among other destinations in Europe.

SCAT Airlines was first listed in the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry in 2015 before being recognised as a member of IATA in March 2018.

The flight to Vilnius is operated by a Boeing 737. The airline also has B767-300, B757-200 and both the B737CL and NG variants in its fleet, as well as Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets. SCAT is the first operator of the Boeing 737 MAX in Central Asia.

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