New Air Kazakhstan to begin operations in 2015

Umirzak Shukeyev, chairman of Kazakhstan’s state investment company, Samruk-Kazyna, has announced that in 2015 it will launch a second national airline, Air Kazakhstan, which will concentrate on short-haul regional services using a fleet of Bombardier Q400s.

Samruk-Kazyna is also the majority shareholder in Air Astana with 51% of the stock alongside its partner, BAE Systems.

“We see the situation in this market and therefore, according to the instructions of the President of Kazakhstan, we decided to establish the second national air company which is going to be specialising in local flights. We have concluded a partner agreement with Bombardier for the purchase of 10 aircraft and the two companies will be working in co-operation,” Shukeyev said.

Shukeyev added that the air company has yet to be registered, but that this should be done by the end of May. Then, close to the year-end the aircraft will be purchased and in early 2015 the company will be fully operating.

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has held a meeting with Bombardier’s president and CEO, Pierre Beaudoin, to discuss the deal.

Air Astana president, Peter Foster, confirmed that at this time it is envisaged that the two airlines will be separate, with no plans for Air Astana to take a stake in Air Kazakhstan. “Air Astana has been involved in the discussions of the formation of a regional airline with our majority shareholder, Samruk-Kazyna, since we retired the Fokker 50 fleet last January,” commented Foster. “There are many domestic airports we cannot serve with our all jet fleet, and it was therefore imperative that steps be taken to serve these cities with modern turboprops operating to internationally compliant standards. Bombardier’s Q400 clearly meets this criterion. We welcome the decision, and expect to work closely with the new airline to jointly develop these markets for the benefit of both airlines, and of the travelling public.”

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