Kazakhstan’s Air Astana returns to profit, but cautious on the remainder of the year

Domestic passengers grew 31 per cent over 2019

Air Astana FlyArystan (Air Astana)

Kazakhstan’s Air Astana Group (comprising of country’s flag carrier Air Astana and its low-cost arm FlyArystan) has registered a net profit of US$4.9 million for the first six months of 2021, recovering from a loss of US$66.2 million for the period January to June 2020. Passengers carried increased to 2.97 million, of which 2.5 million were carried on domestic routes, the group said.

”The two brands, Air Astana and our LCC FlyArystan, have both performed well on domestic routes. Strong market growth and a preference for air travel over long rail journeys have transformed Kazakhstan into the world’s fastest growing domestic market, with 31% passenger growth over 2019, undoubtedly stimulated by FlyArystan’s ultra-low fares,” Peter Foster, Air Astana president & CEO commented.

Whilst international capacity remains at just 45% of the level of 2019, Foster pointed out that “higher yields on regional routes, coupled with high demand on ‘lifestyle’ routes to The Maldives, Red Sea, Montenegro, Dubai, Turkey, Georgia and Sri Lanka, have also contributed to the turnaround, assisted by regular cargo charters on our converted Boeing 767”.

Foster cautioned on guidance for the remainder of the year however. “Covid case numbers are again moving in the wrong direction in Central Asia and many of the countries to where we are flying. Whether the recovery will be sustainable will come down to a race between covid variants and vaccine take-up.”

Air Astana is a joint venture owned by the Samruk Kazyna Wealth Fund (51%) and BAE Systems PLC 49%). The group is presently operates 36 aircraft of which 10 Airbus A320s are operated by FlyArystan. Other types are Boeing 767 and Embraer E190.

On July 2 Air Astana filed the lawsuit against Embraer seeking US$12 million compensation for what the flag carrier claims was necessary grounding of its E190-E2s to address technical faults.

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