Could Air Astana Launch Kazakhstan to US Flights?

**Update: 16/01/2020 @ 17:21 UTC. Air Astana has now issued a comment about possible route development. Find its comment below.**

The U.S. Department of State recently signed an Open Skies agreement with Kazakhstan which opens travel possibilities between the two countries. In light of this, Air Astana could be looking to launch flights between Kazakhstan and the United States. But will Air Astana make the move?

Air Astana, Boeing 767
Could Air Astana open routes to the United States? Photo: calflier001 via Wikimedia Commons

Open Skies opens possibilities for Kazakhstan

On 30th December 2019, the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan signed an Open Skies agreement between the United States and Kazakhstan, allowing for easier travel between the two countries. The agreement, which is yet to come into effect, will include:

“…unrestricted capacity and frequency of services, open route rights, a liberal charter regime, and open codesharing opportunities.”

That’s according to a report from CH-Aviation. At the current time, there are currently no non-stop flights between Kazakhstan and the United States, but that doesn’t mean there never will be.

This latest development allows more freedom for airlines operating in both countries. It means that both countries are free from the constraints of government regulators and are therefore able to develop their networks based on customer demand.

An official release from the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Kazakhstan lauded the praises of the deal stating that it would strengthen the relationship between the two regions. The embassy said:

“Air carriers can provide more affordable, convenient, and efficient air services to consumers and shippers, thereby promoting travel and trade. This Agreement with Kazakhstan will further expand our strong economic and commercial partnership as well as promote people-to-people ties. It will create new opportunities for airlines, travel companies, and customers.”

Potential for Air Astana

The flag carrier of Kazakhstan could well be one of those airlines which profits from the Open Skies agreement. Air Astana’s route network is currently dominated by destinations within Asia. Although it does offer a few European locations, including France, Germany, and The Netherlands as well as cities in the Middle East. However, the airline has yet to traverse the Atlantic. Would it be interested?

Simple Flying has contacted Air Astana for comment regarding this story. Although it didn’t allude to the viability of routes this specific route, a spokesperson told us:

“Air Astana is committed to expanding its network over the next few years and is constantly evaluating the launch of services to new international destinations.”

Back in 2012, the airline placed an order for three Boeing 787-8 aircraft. These aircraft have the capacity to make the journey with a range of 13,530km but would they be profitable?

Issues with services to the United States

Uzbekistan Airways 787-8
Uzbekistan Airways already flies to the U.S. with a Boeing 787-8. Photo: Papas Dos via Flickr

Well, there is already a service in Central Asia which connects the region with the United States. Uzbekistan Airways flies operates a route twice a week from Tashkent Islam Karimov to JFK in New York. And it does this via Boeing 787-8 aircraft. If Air Astana wanted to it could do the same. There’s certainly an appetite there.

However, if Air Astana is seriously interested in flights to the United States, it will need to manage its expectations. The airline’s Boeing 787 order has been delayed three times already and is not expected to reach the airline until 2023.

Boeing, 787-8
Delays with the 787 order could hinder United States routes. Photo: Dave Sizer via Wikimedia Commons

That’s three years from now before it can offer this route, meanwhile, other airlines could be interested in operating routes from Kazakhstan to the United States themselves. Thankfully for Air Astana, there aren’t too many major airlines to contend with, bar SCAT. It’s more the waiting game which might take its toll.

Do you think Air Astana will offer flights from Kazakhstan to the United States? Let us know in the comments!