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Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:38

Air Astana is the first and single air company that gained a Skytrax 4-star rating in CIS and Eastern Europe - Erbolat Baysalykov, Regional Manager of Air Astana in Azerbaijan Featured

Air Astana is the first and single air company that gained a Skytrax 4-star rating in CIS and Eastern Europe - Erbolat Baysalykov, Regional Manager of Air Astana in Azerbaijan

First Class Journal (FCJ): Mr. Baysalykov, could you please tell about the history of the creation of Air Astana?

Erbolat Baysalykov, Regional Manager of Air Astana in Azerbaijan: Air Astana Company was registered in 2001 and made its first flight Almaty-Astana on May 15, 2002. President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Sir Richard Evans took part in the ceremony of the flight inauguration.

Air Astana is the joint venture of the Sovereign Wealth Fund “Samruk-Kazyna JSC and the British Company BAE Systems PLC which possess 51% and 49% of shares respectively.

Over 4,000 people are working for the company today. Peter Foster, Aviation Business Manager with an over 30-year working experience, has headed Air Astana Company since 2005.



FCJ: What is the geographic reach of the company activity and are there plans on its expansion?

Erbolat Baysalykov: The route network of Air Astana Company includes 43 international and 20 domestic flights.

However, new routes are opened every year. For instance, the following flights have been opened since the beginning of this year: Almaty-Khoshimin, Almaty-Kiev, Astana-Kiev, Atyrau-Moscow, Astana-Orenburg and Astana-Bishkek.

The air fleet of the company consists of modern aircrafts produced in the west: Boeing 767-300ER, Boeing 757-200, Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Airbus A321 and Embraer 190. There are 26 aircrafts in the air fleet of Air Astana Company. Their quantity is planned to be increased up to 33 by the end of 2016.



FCJ: What kind of innovations does the company apply?

Erbolat Baysalykov: Generally, Air Astana Company introduced such innovations in Kazakhstan’s aviation industry as online registration and online purchase of air tickets. The comfort of the passengers of the air company is constantly improved. Here, noteworthy is the renewal of business class seats.

Online mobile check-in is one of the upcoming projects that we also want to implement.



FCJ: How many years has Air Astana Company worked in Azerbaijan?

Erbolat Baysalykov: Air Astana began flying to Azerbaijan in April 2009. At first, Almaty-Baku flight was made twice a week. The number of flights was increased up to 3 flights per week in August 2010.

Besides, Astana-Baku air flight (twice a week) was opened in May 2012. Thus, Air Astana connected two fraternal capitals Baku and Astana.

A year later (May 2013), the number of flights made in this route was increased up to 3 flights per week.

Flights are made mainly by high-speed airliners Embraer 190 produced in Brazil. Embraer 190 can take 97 passengers (9 and 88 seats in the business and economy classes respectively).



FCJ: Are there plans on opening of representative offices of the company in the regions of Azerbaijan?

Erbolat Baysalykov: We would like to, but there are no such plans for now.


FCJ: Which international air companies is Air Astana cooperating with?

Erbolat Baysalykov: Air Astana Company has so far signed code-sharing agreements with such air companies as Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, KLM, Asiana Airlines, Etihad Airways and Rossiya Airlines.


FCJ: What is the distinguishing feature of Air Astana?

Erbolat Baysalykov: As far as the distinguishing feature is concerned, the company has once again been awarded a 4 star rating by Skytrax agency and called the “Best air company in Central Asia and India”. Apart from this, the company received “The best service in Central Asia and India” award. The prize presentation ceremony of winners of “2013 world air companies” award took place in June within the framework of the 50th jubilee Paris air-show Le Bourget. In this way, Air Astana is the only one which gained a Skytrax 4-star rating among air companies of CIS and Eastern Europe.



FCJ: Could you please provide more elaborate information about Nomad Club program, and what kind of benefits may your clients get from this program?

Erbolat Baysalykov: Nomad Club is a program of awarding of Air Astana passengers. It is an opportunity to express gratitude to passengers for their regular choosing of Air Astana. A client has to enter our website and get registered online for joining this program.

Points are accumulated on all flights made by Air Astana. The more is the flights the higher is the amount of points. At first, a client becomes an owner of basic blue card. As long as the points grow, a participant may get a silver or golden card.  An owner of silver and golden card gets a number of benefits such as priority during registration, additional bonuses, permission for transportation of additional baggage and an access to special waiting rooms regardless of the flight class (for golden card owners only). Nomad Club is currently adding points for flights made by Air Astana and a number of partner companies. But in the future, we plan to expand the number of partner companies which will provide our passengers more opportunities for increasing their points.  The range of partners will include companies providing services in the field of hotel business, renting of automobiles as well as credit cards, restaurants, shops, etc.



FCJ: Which security standards are applied during flights?

Erbolat Baysalykov: In September 2013 Air Astana once again confirmed its conformity to world security standards after successful passing through the following 4th Operational Safety Audit of the International Air Transport Association (IOSA Operational Safety Audit).

During the audit held on May 16-20 2013, all the documentation along with the observance of about 1000 standards and recommended practices of IOSA by the air company was audited. 

As our president Peter Foster says: “Permanent growth of safety of our flights and the quality of services is a priority for every member of our team. Successful completion of IOSA audit has once again proved that.

Safety is a main value for us, and we are committed to improving our activity through observance of international standards and efficient risk and quality management.

The audit was held by the international audit company ICF SH&E.

Today, Air Astana is the only air transporter in Kazakhstan which has successfully passed all IOSA audits since 2007. 

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