Air Astana to increase its fleet size; to focus on connectivity from Kazakhstan to Mumbai

New Delhi [India], Sept. 11 : President and Chief Executive Officer of Kazakhstan's national airline Air Astana, Peter Foster, has said that the carrier plans to expand its fleet size by a total of 33 more aircrafts in the near future.

"We have orders for 17 Airbus Neo aircrafts, and five new E2's. So basically, we plan to increase our fleet size from 31 to 64 aircrafts by 2025," Foster told ANI during an interaction at the company's Kazakhstan office.

Highlighting Air Astana's expansion plans by the year 2020, Foster said that there is an Initial Public Offering (IPO) by the company, which will be put on the exchange by September 2018.

"The IPO size is not really defined at this point. Half of the company will be sold to the Kazakh Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange," Foster added, while saying that it is too early to mention the price.

Naming India as a key destination for its business, the Air Astana chief said that last year, 70,000 passengers were flown between Kazakhstan and India, whereas this year 50,000 have travelled between the countries up until July.

"We are likely to start concentrating on Delhi and Mumbai, and working with the Indian carriers to fly passengers.

This will enable us to fly from Kazakhstan to Mumbai for a better foot fall of passengers," added Foster while commenting on the direct operating flights from Almaty to Mumbai and Astana to Mumbai that are likely to start by early 2019.

"The market from India to the west is very crucial for us. We see our market in terms of India caters to Central Asia, Russia and Ukraine," said Foster on the direct capacity of flights.

"We will continue to be very aggressive on the growth of business and tourism from India. In order to maintain the same, we will focus on offering more cheap air fare to India," added Foster. He said India is very popular amongst Kazakhstan and the Russian travelers, adding "we will maintain to offer competitive prices to our customers." Adding to this, Foster said that the company's aim is to attract more Indian passengers to Kazakhstan for which they have been constantly urging the Kazakh authorities for an easier visa regime for Indian passport holders.

Air Astana, which commenced its operations India in 2004, operates 10 flights weekly; seven between Almaty and Delhi, and three between Astana, the capital, and Delhi so far.

The national airline of the Republic of Kazakhstan, operates entirely as a private company. "We initially had some share holding capital, when the company established itself, we had no government support.

Our organization had become a completely clean commercial organization, and all expansion is now done due to the accumulating profits," added Foster.

Source: ANI