Kazakhstan’s flag carrier Air Astana announced yesterday that it will start operating flights again from Nur-Sultan to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, from 17th November. The global pandemic had put brakes on this route, but the carrier is now ready to resume flights between the two cities using its Embraer E190-E2 aircraft.
Air Astana will resume service between Nur-Sultan to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, from 17th November. Photo: Air Astana
Air Astana’s flight between Nur-Sultan and Bishkek had to be dropped due to the global pandemic. But the carrier feels it’s about time to connect the two capital cities again. Initially, the Embraer E190-E2 aircraft will be deployed twice a week on the route on Wednesdays and Sundays, and in December, two more frequencies will be added on Mondays and Fridays.
Flights will depart from Nur-Sultan and Bishkek twice a week to the following schedule,
Nur-Sultan (NQZ) to Bishkek (FRU)
Flight no – KC151
Duration: 1hr 50m
Bishkek (FRU) to Nur-Sultan (NQZ)
Flight no – KC152
Duration: 1hr 50m
In a statement, the carrier gives further details about the airplane it has chosen to fly on this route, stating,
“Embraer E190-E2 aircraft have premium economy and economy class cabin configuration, with premium economy passengers being offered priority check-in and boarding, increased baggage allowance, business class menu and business lounge access.”
The airline will stick to all COVID-related protocols on the flight. Passengers, including children from the age of six, will need to produce a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours before departure. Fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed boarding without a test.
The Embraer E190-E2 will fly to Bishkek twice weekly initially, increasing the frequency to four in December. Photo: Getty Images
In recovery mode
Air Astana seems to be in recovery mode. The airline carried more people in the first six months of 2021 than it did in 2020. By June end, the carrier had returned to profitability for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it posted a loss of $66.2 million for the first six months of 2020, it netted $4.9 million in the same period this year.
Most of the carrier’s profit has come from domestic flying, which has seen an enormous growth of 125%. The airline’s CEO, Peter Foster, believes that a preference for air travel over long rail journeys has transformed Kazakhstan into the world’s fastest-growing domestic market. This, along with regular cargo charters on its converted Boeing 767, seems to have fueled the profits.
Air Astana is in recovery mode following the pandemic, making profits and expanding its network again. Photo: Getty Images
The carrier’s latest route to Bishkek is part of a series of other networks it has started in the last few months. Air Astana resumed flights to London in September using its latest Airbus A321LR, followed by flight resumption to Male (Maldives) and a new service to Phuket in October. The same month, the carrier also announced that it will launch flights to Colombo in December and increase services to Moscow and Istanbul. Earlier this month, Air Astana also resumed scheduled flights from Almaty to Baku.
Judging from the speed of its network expansion, Air Astana seems well on its way to post-COVID recovery.
Are you excited to see Air Astana bounce back and restart all these routes? Have you booked a seat on any of these flights? Do share your comments below.