Air Astana, the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, is to transfer its flight operations from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo (SVO) airport to its Domodedovo (DME) neighbour airport from the IATA 2019 winter season. The move comes after a recently signed code-share agreement with S7 Airlines, which has DME as the Russian carrier’s capital city as its operational base.
This change of airport directly affects Air Astana services from both Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), with 11 weekly services in winter; and Almaty (14 weekly services), and will pave the way for including these key routes between allied nations into the cooperation agreement. The airline estimates it already transports some 120,000 to 144,000 passengers on Moscow routes annually.
According to the earlier code-share agreement, effective from 15th July 2019, Air Astana flights from its hubs at Nur-Sultan and Almaty to Novosibirsk and to St Petersburg already bear the S7 Airlines code. Similarly, S7 Airlines’ services from Nur-Sultan and Almaty to Novosibirsk carry the Air Astana designator.
The move also means Air Astana will enjoy additional opportunities for development and will be able to virtually expand its route network because S7 Airlines flies from Moscow to more than 65 Russian cities.
The switch is a rare piece of good news for Russia’s second biggest airport, which recently lost several important customers when Azur Air, RusLine and Uzbekistan Airways all left DME for Moscow’s Vnukovo airport. In the early summer, Brussels Airlines transferred its flights to Sheremetyevo and, in July, Vietnam Airlines moved to SVO to streamline its operations with Aeroflot, its SkyTeam alliance partner.
Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, situated to the south of the city, served 29.4 million passengers in 2018, 1.2 million people less than a year before.
Air Astana launched flights from Almaty and Nur-Sultan to Moscow in 2002. Since then the airline has carried more than 3.5 million passengers and more than 26,000 tonnes of cargo.
Air Astana’s press service has told Russian Aviation Insider that the transfer to DME and its “strategic partnership” with S7, which includes interline, code-share, as well as engineering and maintenance, does not mean that the airline plans to join the One World airline alliance. “Air Astana has code-share partnerships across all three major global alliances. Our strategy is to choose the best partner in each of the hubs to provide network possibilities for our customers. In regards to joining one of these three alliances, our position is “never say never” but at this stage our “key partner/hub approach” is the most effective model.
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