26.11.2014 Sheikh Ahmed welcomes Air Astana and their new daily services to Dubai from Almaty
Air Astana operates the route alongside flydubai, using A320 aircraft, while flydubai uses Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft. flydubai’s Chief Executive Officer, Ghaith Al Ghaith, was also in attendance at Air Astana’s celebration which was held at Dubai’s H Hotel on Sunday evening, 16th November.
At the event, the 150 guests enjoyed an array of entertainment, including a performance by celebrity violinist Jamilya Serkebayeva, lively Kazakhstan dancers and a runway fashion show from Air Astana’s flight attendants.
In his welcoming speech Mr. Foster said he was delighted to be serving Dubai again, highlighting the route was already proving very popular both for tourist traffic and for Kazakhstan residents with property investments in the UAE. Forward bookings are so strong for December and January that a B767 will operate the route, he said.
Dubai was Air Astana’s first international service, initially served from Almaty in 2002 and running through to 2010. The airline is hopeful that once this route is firmly established it will eventually serve Dubai to Astana too, ideally ahead of the city of Astana playing host to Expo 2017. Air Astana already serves four times daily flights from Abu Dhabi, alongside Etihad Airways, in a code share.
Speaking to Dubai-based media Peter Foster confirmed that the airline was set to report a ‘very healthy’ operating profit for this year, bolstered by an increase of 120% in transit traffic, despite a devaluation of the Kazakhstan Tenge in February affecting the local market. Furthermore, he confirmed the airline was very close to determining a new narrow-bodied fleet type in what will be a two horse race between Airbus for the A320 NEO and Boeing with the 737 Max. Air Astana has an RFP out with the big leasing companies, specifying 11 aircraft for arrival from March 2016. The airline also has three Boeing 787s on order - for 2019 delivery.
Air Astana is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund Samruk Kazyna and BAE Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%.