Air Astana Resumes Services From Almaty Airport After Unrest

Air Astana is resuming services from Almaty International Airport today after the facility was overrun by protesters a week ago. The airline canceled around 800 flights over the past week due to the unrest that recently swept the country. The protests were held in response to rising fuel prices within the country.

Air Astana, Kazakhstan, Almaty Airport
Air Astana has resumed flights from Almaty Airport. Photo: Getty Images

When unrest swept through Kazakhstan last week, the local flag carrier, Air Astana, was forced to suspend operations. While the airline was able to resume flights from most of its airports last Friday, Almaty presented a slightly more complex situation. The airport had to be resecured after protesters overran it.

Almaty operations resume today

Almaty Airport resumed operations today, allowing the Kazakh flag carrier to resume operations at the airport. According to the airport’s online departure board, many flights to and from the airport remain canceled. Data from FlightRadar24.com suggests that two Air Astana flights were able to leave the airport yesterday, KC139 to Tbilisi, Georgia, and KC915 to Antalya, Turkey.

While many of Air Astana’s flights from the Kazakhstan capital remain canceled today, others have operated, such as KC563 to Phuket. Air Astana has also been joined by several other airlines, such as SCAT Airlines flying the Boeing 737 MAX on a domestic flight to Nur Sultan and Russia’s Nordwind Airlines flying a 737-800 to Kaliningrad Russia.

Almaty Airport, Kazakhstan, Air Astana
Russian forces secured the airport on Friday. Photo: Getty Images

According to Air Astana, the airline had to cancel 178 international flights and 621 domestic flights between January 5th and 12th. The flight cancelations affected the main full-service brand and its low-cost subsidiary, FlyArystan.

Last Friday, Simple Flying reported that Russian troops had successfully taken control of Almaty International Airport at the request of Kazakhstan. While the airport had been closed to civilian operations, Russian troops arrived onboard nine Ilyushin Il-76 planes.

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New entry rules for Kazakhstan

Separately from reporting that it was resuming flights from Almaty International Airport, Air Astana also revealed that Kazakhstan is tightening its entry requirements. From Saturday, January 15th, the country will require all arrivals to hold proof of taking a negative COVID-19 result within the 72 hours preceding arrival in the country.

Airport Testing Getty
Every passenger over five must now take a COVID-19 PCR test before traveling to the country. Photo: Getty Images

Test results must be displayed on an English, Russian, or Kazakh certificate. According to the airline, the regulation applies to all travelers over the age of five, regardless of their vaccination status. Kazakh citizens and residents aren’t exempt from the rules, unlike the case in many other countries, and will be turned away at the point of departure if they don’t have the necessary proof. Many countries have amended their COVID-19 entry rules in the face of the Omicron variant discovered late last year.

What do you make of Almaty Airport reopening to civilian traffic? Are you due to fly to Kazakhstan? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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