On 15 May, Air Astana celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first commercial flight from Almaty to Nur-Sultan. The airline said it is proud of the “significant progress achieved since those early days, having maintained its independence and never calling upon external support, despite numerous macro-economic shocks over two decades”.
Air Astana has carried almost 60 million passengers and more than 250,000 tonnes of cargo over the last 20 years, with 600,000 flights operated and an average passenger load factor of almost 70 percent. The airline said its management team has “relentlessly delivered outstanding performance in terms of safety, service innovation, passenger comfort, operational efficiency and in particular low costs, which are in-line with those achieved by the world’s leading low-cost airlines”.
Air Astana said it has contributed to the Kazakhstan economy by creating over 5,000 jobs, all of which were maintained during the health pandemic period. In addition, the airline has generated over US$500 million in tax revenue for the government over the past 20 years.
Air Astana Group’s fleet has grown to 37 aircraft, including Boeing 767, Airbus A320/A320neo/A321/A321neo/A321LR and Embraer 190-E2 aircraft, with an average age of four years. Since its launch in 2019, FlyArystan, the group’s low-cost subsidiary, has grown rapidly to operate 10 Airbus A320 aircraft on 44 international and domestic routes. Since 2009, a total of 259 cadets have completed Air Astana’s Ab-initio pilot training programme, with 60 becoming Captains and 157 serving as First Officer.
“Air Astana’s 20th anniversary is a truly remarkable achievement, which I hold with great pride together every one of our dedicated 5,000 employees. With the guiding principles of resilience, determination and innovation, we have all worked tirelessly to overcome every obstacle in order to consistently deliver the very highest levels of safety, service and efficiency to our dedicated customers for two decades,” said Peter Foster, president and CEO of Air Astana. “The past two years of enduring the effects on travel of COVID have been particularly challenging, but these principles helped ensure a very solid financial performance in 2021, which positions us well for growth at the start of Air Astana’s third decade.”
2021 Financial and Operational Highlights
During 2021, Air Astana Group increased total revenue by 90 percent to US$761 million compared to US$400 million in 2020, with the figure for 2019 being almost US$900 million. EDITDAR (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and restructuring) for 2021 was US$217 million compared to US$33 million in 2020, with the figure for 2019 being US$171 million. The 2021 net profit of US$36.2 million compared to a loss of US$93.9 million in 2020 and was notably higher than the figure of US$30 million in 2019, prior to the impact on travel of COVID.
The group carried 6.6 million passengers in 2021, up almost 80 percent on 2020, with Air Astana carrying 3.6 million passengers and FlyArystan carrying 3 million passengers. Total overall capacity was up more than 60 percent over 2020. Air Astana opened new international flights to Batumi (Georgia), Podgorica (Montenegro), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Phuket (Thailand), as well as resuming services to several destinations including Male (Maldives), London, Delhi, Tbilisi (Georgia) and Dushanbe (Tajikistan). FlyArystan inaugurated services to Kutaisi (Georgia) from three cities in Kazakhstan and launched 10 new domestic routes. The Air Astana Group added three Airbus A321LR and one Airbus A320 aircraft to its fleet during 2021, as well as successfully passing IOSA’s safety audit for the eighth time. Air Astana also conducted a C-Check on an Airbus A321 for the first time at its technical base in Nur-Sultan.