Air Astana is celebrating its 18th anniversary with a resumption of more domestic flights (a great gift for any airline right now!). Much like airlines around the globe, Air Astana has had a difficult year due to the coronavirus. However, Air Astana is confident it can survive the crisis after its near-record 2019 (it’s 2010 record of $77 million net-profit still stands). Let’s find out more.
Tough times for the airline
Air Astana’s 18th anniversary comes as the airline has been forced to ground most of its fleet due to travel restrictions. As such, it has suffered some heavy losses. Kazakhstan banned all international and domestic flights in late March to slow the spread of the virus. This meant the airline had to park most of its fleet and rethink its future. However, the country has since eased restrictions in the last few weeks, allowing domestic flights to operate once again.
However, Air Astana is confident that the market for air travel with return soon. As one of the major carriers in central Asia, it plans to restart international flights as soon as it can, cashing in on the demand from the region. The airline is particularly strong in Central Asia and India, where is offers competitive fares to Europe.
Fleet modernization to continue
When the crisis hit, Air Astana was in the midst of a fleet overhaul. This included retiring its fleet of 757s for the more modern and efficient A321LR. The airline also inducted the newer Embraer E190-E2 to replace the older E190 on regional routes. In a press release, the airline has confirmed that it is accelerating the retirement of the aging Boeing jets due to the present situation, in line with industry trends.
In a statement sent to Simple Flying, CEO Peter Foster has said the airline could look to defer some short-term plane orders and focus on key routes to generate cash. This could mean the airline pushes back its fleet modernization and takes lesser deliveries of the A321LR, reducing overall fleet size.
Air Astana’s fortunes have reversed in the last year. 2019 marked the airline’s best year in almost a decade, carrying five million passengers and generating $900 million in revenue. The airline also racked up $30 million in profits which are undoubtedly helping it weather the current storm. FlyArystan, Air Astana’s low-cost subsidiary, also commenced operations in 2019 with impressive results.
However, 2020 has been a difficult year for the airline and industry at large. The airline is burning through nearly $9 million a month and hopes to resume international services soon. The resumption of more domestic flights on the airline’s anniversary will definitely be a huge boost to the airline.
What do you think about Air Astana’s future? Have you flown with them before? Let us know in the comments below.