By Alexander Gabchenko
From the beginning of 2016, the traffic of a Kazakh airline start-up Qazaq Air has been reportedly increasing. At a press-event in Almaty the carrier announced that in March alone it served over 12,000 passengers. From the moment it launched operations in late August of last year, the airline has carried over 62,000 passengers, out of which less than a half were carried in 2015 at roughly 7,500 passengers a month. Thus, in January and February this year, Qazaq Air carried 20,000 passengers.
Apart from reporting on its operational results, the airline’s top-managers announced that on April 9 the first regular flight from Almaty to Qyzylorda, an administrative center in the south of Kazakhstan. The fares for the 1 hour 45 minute flight would begin at 12,500 tenge (around 32 dollars).
“We are hoping that launching regular connection on the new route in the airline’s network will foster air transport development in the region,” Qazaq Air’s CEO Adel Dauletbek said. Almaty – Qyzylorda is the tenth route in the new airline’s schedule. The carrier will focus mainly on intra- and inter-regional destinations. At the moment, Qazaq Air connects eight administrative centers, and the new capital of Astana with the largest city and the former capital, Almaty. The airline’s fleet consists of three leased Bombardier Q400 Next Generation turboprops, configured with 76-78 seats. The staff includes 18 pilots. These assets will work at their full capacity when the airline has launched 12 routes.
“This year we have invested heavily in personnel, because our main operational criteria are safety, stability and comfort. Qazaq Air will continue to streamline its efforts to develop its route network and will stay committed to its priorities,” the airline’s chairman of the board Blair Pollock emphasized.
In the nearest perspective, the carrier is counting on leasing two more new Bombardier Q400s. Throughout the year, it will launch customer loyalty program and two new routes, possibly not linked to Astana or Almaty.
“Our company’s most recent plans call for developing regular domestic flights, and further on we are considering flights to border cities in Kazakhstan’s neighboring countries,” explained Pollock.
During the press-event, Russian Aviation Insider among other media had a chance to board one of the airline’s Q400NGs, noting the aircraft cabin’s spaciousness and seat pitch.
Notably, in the first months of Qazaq Air’s existence, the passengers anticipated that the new airline would be a low-cost carrier. According to a poll by SKY Magazine, 10% of respondents still think so. However, the carrier’s management emphasizes that despite the attractive fares the airline is offering now, there’s “hardly any chance for a low-cost airline to survive in Kazakhstan” due to market specifics.
Qazaq Air is a joint-stock company, 100% of its shares belong to the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund, a state-run organization which accumulates state-owned shares in Kazakhstan’s most profitable businesses.
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