Air Astana soars in 2014, despite currency issues

Air Astana's aircraft now have an average age of just 5.5 years
Air Astana’s aircraft now have an average age of just 5.5 years

The annual profits of Kazakhstan’s national carrier, Air Astana, rose sharply in 2014, despite currency issues that impacted the airline early in the year.

Kazakhstan’s government devalued its national currency, the tengue, by 19% in February 2014, hitting the airline’s finances. But despite this, Air Astana still managed to achieve a positive full-year result through rising passenger traffic and tight management of costs.

Air Astana posted an operating profit of US$97.7 million in 2014, an increase of 35% over the previous year, and the best result in the company’s 13-year history. Net profits fell by 62% to US$19.3m however, due to a one-off revaluation of external debt caused by the devaluation of the tengue.

Passenger traffic rose by 3% to 3.8m, but revenues declined 3% to US$932.9m.

Peter Foster
Peter Foster

“2014 was a good year considering the tengue devaluation and uncertainty in the region following the sanctions imposed on Russia, our largest market after Kazakhstan,” said Air Astana’s president & CEO, Peter Foster. “The excellent operating result was a result of a 7% drop in unit cost and a rise in transit business to and from the region.”

Foster added however, that “continued regional political and economic uncertainty would lead to 2015 being a difficult year.”

Air Astana continued to modernise its fleet in 2014, taking delivery of three Airbus A320s, one Embraer E190 and two Boeing 767s, mostly as replacements for older aircraft. This resulted in the airline achieving an average fleet age of just 5.5 years. The airline also became the 16th member of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) last year.

Late last year it launched a daily service to Dubai and a new route linking Astana with Bangkok. And this expansion will continue in March 2015 with the launch of a new direct service between Paris and Astana.

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