Kazakhstan airline Air Astana is downright giddy over the purchase of its first aircraft
An Air Astana jet sits at Almaty International Airport in Kazakhstan. Dan / Flickr.com
The airline has been profitable since its second year of operation and the purchase marks a milestone in the carrier’s growth strategy, which includes an IPO by the end of 2013.
Air Astana has taken delivery of its first owned aircraft, with a new Embraer 190 arriving in Almaty International Airport on 1st November 2012. In commemoration of this achievement, the aircraft will be named after Kazakhstan’s first female pilot Hiuaz Dospanova. The latest aircraft will be deployed on Air Astana’s rapidly expanding network of services to neighbouring countries in Central Asia, Caucasus and southern Russia.
The new arrival is the sixth Embraer 190 to join the fleet, since the first aircraft arrived in 2011, with the previous five aircraft being leased. A further two Embraer 190s are scheduled to join the fleet before the end of 2013, with one of these being owned and one being leased. The total value of the two purchased aircraft is US$86 million.
Air Astana selected the Embraer 190 for its operating efficiency, with low maintenance costs and fuel burn, together with a comfortable and spacious cabin which seats 97 passengers in a two class configuration. The twin engine jet is optimised for medium range flights, with a maximum range of 4,200km.
Purchase finance for owned aircraft has been arranged independently by Air Astana, without calling upon government guarantees. The purchase of its own aircraft is a part of Air Astana’s strategic development plan. The airline has 14 aircraft on order, out of which 10 will be delivered in the next 14 months.
The latest Embraer 190 aircraft was delivered directly from Embraer’s manufacturing facility in the Brazilian city of San-Jose-dos-Campos, from where it had departed on the 30th of October. The delivery flights totalled 22 hours in the air, with the aircraft making four scheduled stops en-route for refueling and crew rest. Upon arrival in Almaty, the E-190 was examined by Air Astana engineering department, which undertook a series of technical and documentation checks.
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