The world’s newest airline took to the skies for the first time yesterday. Fly Arystan, the product of a low cost initiative by Kazakhstan’s Air Astana, have gone from idea to earning money in just six months.
Former Simple Flying ‘Startup Airline of the Week’, Fly Arystan, has launched service somewhat earlier than anticipated. Taking their first revenue flight from Almaty yesterday, the new airline is the first low cost carrier to be based in Kazakhstan.
In a statement to the press, head of Fly Arystan, Tim Jordan, said:
“With this exciting new airline, we are courting a new generation of travelers. People who typically get around our large country using the train or bus, or those who don’t travel at all.
“We are pitching FlyArystan at the visiting friends and relatives market, primarily. In turn this will stimulate the leisure market as a second strand, together with an element of business travel.
“A number of destinations handed over to us by Air Astana will suit a different, more price-conscious demographic. Accordingly, we aim to introduce some purchase options giving flexibility for business flyers, including offering refunds or the ability to change tickets, albeit at higher tariffs,”
The swift launch of Fly Arystan is a credit to its founders, Air Astana. From announcement to earning in just six months is an amazing achievement, and a positive sign of things to come.
Who are Fly Arystan?
The new low cost carrier are a subsidiary of Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flag carrying airline. They claim to be the ‘first genuine Central Asian LCC’ and have been set up to battle the relentless tide of low cost airlines routing to the country.
Already Kazakhstan is on the route of a number of LCCs, including FlyDubai, Wizz Air and Pobeda, and they expect more in the future. CEO of Air Astana, Peter Foster, told Flight Global that they “…fully expect Indian and southeast Asian LCCs will come before long.”
“It has become clear there is huge untapped potential,” he continued, “So FlyArystan is on the one hand defensive, protecting ourselves against existing and new entrants, and on the other a proactive step to realize new market potential.”
For their initial flights, Fly Arystan have just two all-economy Airbus A320s in service, supplied by Air Astana. A further two will be added later in the year. They are currently flying under Air Astana’s AOC, using pilots and crew seconded from their parent airline.
By the end of this year, they hope to be operating around 12 routes and will seek an AOC of their own at that time.
Where can you Fly Arystan?
Their routes will largely focus on domestic services, offering fares at around 50% less than their parent company, Air Astana. As time goes on, the airline will build its fleet and routes, with a target of 15 aircraft by 2022.
The airline has launched with six domestic routes in service. From its home at Almaty International Airport, it will fly to Taraz, Shymkent, Pavlodar, Uralsk, Nur-Sultan (Astana) and Karaganda.
On board offerings
On board, the offering looks pretty good for a low cost carrier. The seats are brand new, all 180 of them, and are the Recaro slimline seats as are often seen in economy cabins. The royal blue of the seats is beautifully offset by the red headrest, the same colors featured on the cabin crew uniforms.
However, the seat pitch is tiny; just 29”. The airline has suggested that the curve of the seat itself and the position of the seat back pocket will make them feel roomier than the numbers would suggest. While we highly doubt that, at least they didn’t join the elite ‘Club 28’ airlines, such as TUI, TAP and Spirit.
Traveling with up to 5kg of baggage is free, but 10kg of baggage will mean it has to be paid for. Doing a quick basic check online gives an indication of how much this could cost:
The basic fare of 7,999 KZT (around $20) is hand baggage only, or the Comfort tier which includes seat selection and a 20kg checked bag comes in at 11,599 KZT (around $30).
The top tier Comfort Plus doubles the weight of allowed hand baggage, includes priority boarding, a free change, seat selection (including extra legroom seats) and a 20kg checked bag. This takes the price to 15,999 KZT (just over $40).
Overall, Fly Arystan are looking like a solid choice for low cost domestic flying in Central Asia. It will be great to watch them grow, and we look forward to seeing new routes added over time.