Last week FlyArystan, Kazakhstan’s first low-cost airline made its inaugural international flight from Nur-Sultan to Moscow Zhukovsky airport. The flight was made using its fourth Airbus A320, which only recently joined the fleet. This service will connect Russia’s capital city with the capital of Kazakhstan – a country with historical ties to Russia.
A tale of two cities
Peter Foster, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Astana, believes that the people of Nur-Sultan will take this opportunity to travel to the Russian capital and vice versa. In the airline’s press release he said:
“We have established ourselves in the market as a reliable, and most importantly affordable airline for the people. Therefore, we are more than confident that after domestic flights, Kazakhstani citizens will be happy to travel to other countries around the region. Importantly, the low fares offered by FlyArystan will also encourage new Russian based visitors to see Nur-Sultan and more broadly Kazakhstan.”
The Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan has an interesting history. According to The Guardian, the capital city of the nation was moved from Almaty in the south to the master-planned purpose-built city of Astana in 1997. The city was renamed to Nur-Sultan this year, after the country’s first president. Some suspect that the relocation of the capital city to the north was a move to assert Kazakh independence and influence in the area and discourage the rise of Russian separatism.
Significant growth for FlyArystan
According to Foster, the airline has seen significant growth this past year:
“With the launch of Kazakhstan’s first low-cost airline the domestic aviation market in Kazakhstan has begun to grow dramatically with the number of passengers at airports already served by FlyArystan…Over the October – November period and with the addition of new aircraft that rate of growth has actually increased to 58%.”
A Simple Flying ‘Startup Airline of the Week’, Fly Arystan launched service somewhat earlier than anticipated. In fact, the airline had its first revenue flight from Almaty in May. Clearly the airline has found a recently untapped market and is benefitting greatly. “Today there are now 10 destinations in the route network of the air carrier,” says the airline.
On the same day that the Nur-Sultan to Moscow service kicked off, FlyArystan also launched daily flights from the old capital of Almaty to the Kazakh city of Semey. Furthermore, later this week the airline will also operate its inaugural flight from Nur-Sultan to Kostanay on December 18th.
Despite the occasionally tenuous history, the two countries have had with one another, FlyArystan and Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport are looking to benefit from the anticipated increase in commerce and tourism the new service will bring:
“We sincerely welcome our new aviation partner – FlyArystan in Zhukovsky. The expansion of opportunities for air travel is fully consistent with our main goal – to make flying more affordable. And, of course, we are glad and proud that the first low-cost airline of the Republic of Kazakhstan chose Russia and Zhukovsky for its first international flight. This imposes a special responsibility, and we will do everything possible to ensure that the first flight held today is the start of a long and successful partnership, ” -Alexsandr Semenov, Deputy General Director of Ramport Aero JSC.
With Nur-Sultan’s relatively low population, it will be interesting to see how this route performs – and if the residents of Moscow will have any interest in exploring the capital of Kazakhstan.
Have you ever traveled to Kazakhstan? Or have plans to in the future? Let us know in the comments!