A new low-fare airline has been unveiled by Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana, with plans to launch it during the first half of next year.
Called FlyArystan, it will initially operate a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft configured in a 180-seat single economy class. A statement from Air Astana says it will “operate a classic LCC model, following the examples of highly successful airlines such as easyjet, Indigo, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia. It will offer low airfares – approximately half of what Air Astana offers today – on mostly domestic routes – but it is expected to expand onto regional international routes in the mid-term.”
The goal is to grow the fleet to at least 15 by 2022, operating from multiple bases in the central Asian country. Routes and bases will be announced over the next few months.
Peter Foster, president and CEO of Air Astana, said: “FlyArystan is the result of much serious thought and internal business planning, and comes as a result of a rapidly changing local and regional airline business environment. It will be good for the mid to long-term prospects of Air Astana, and we hope, very welcome to the Kazakhstan travelling public, who will be able to benefit from significantly cheaper airfares on domestic and regional routes.”
The LCC’s management team is already appointed, drawn from Air Astana’s senior local managers. It will be led by Tim Jordan, a British-Australian national with more than 15 years of senior LCC management experience at Cebu Pacific and Virgin Blue.
As a division of Air Astana, added the airline, there will be “no degradation of airline safety or reliability standards. All safety standards and regulatory processes to which Air Astana is subject, will automatically apply to FlyArystan. Finally, and as usual with Air Astana, the project will be entirely self-funded. FlyArystan will require no capital from shareholders, no state subsidies or external financial support of any kind.”
Air Astana operates flights to over 60 domestic and international routes from hubs in Astana and Almaty. Incorporated in late 2001, it began operations in May 2002 and currently has a fleet of Boeing 767, 757, Airbus A319, A320, A320neo, A321, A321neo and Embraer 190 aircraft. It is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna, and BAE Systems, with respective shares of 51% and 49%.