Air Astana announces Dreamliner order
Air Astana, the national flag carrier, announced that it has agreed to purchase from the Boeing Company four Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, and 3 Boeing 787-8 “Dreamliner” aircraft, an order worth $1.3 billion at list prices, the largest ever in Kazakhstan’s civil aviation history.
The Boeing 767s will be delivered in 2013 and 2014 and the Boeing 787 “Dreamliners”, in 2017 and 2019.
The airline’s Chairman, Nurzhan Baidauletov, Managing Director of majority owner sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, stated at a press conference in Almaty on 4 February that the introduction of the Dreamliner “will place Air Astana amongst the leading airlines of the world in terms of operating highest quality, environmentally friendly air services”. Mr Baidauletov also stressed that in keeping with its history of financial self-sufficiency, Air Astana would not require state or shareholder funds for the purchases but “will fund the new aircraft through a combination of its own cash and financial instruments through the air finance market”.
The press conference was also attended by Mr Marty Bentrott, Senior Vice President International Sales for the Boeing Company, who talked about the unique efficiencies of the “Dreamliner”, the newest civil aircraft in the world, which came into commercial service in late 2011.
Air Astana President Peter Foster stated the Boeing 767s, equipped with fuel-saving winglets, would replace its present two leased aircraft of the same type and progressively replace its leased Boeing 757s. With a range of approximately 12 hours’ from Almaty and Astana, Mr Foster stated that “the Boeing 767 has proved capable of operating on all of Air Astana’s present route network without restriction or the need for technical stops”. Mr Foster also stated that the Boeing 787s, with a range of more than 16 hours, will not only enable the existing routes to be operated to the highest standards of efficiency and comfort, but would also enable the airline to consider longer routes, to points in the USA, Australasia and Africa, as its business plans develop.
The airline also announced its operating results for 2011. Capacity grew by 15% and the number of passengers carried grew by 16% to just over 3 million. Revenues grew by 16%, and whilst profitability was affected by jet fuel price rises of more than 130% over 2010, the airline continued to be profitable. During the year it introduced its first three Embraer 190 regional jets and one additional Boeing 757, and begun flights to Samara and Tbilisi as well as increasing frequencies on most of its other routes.