Kazakhstan’s government is planning to launch a new domestic airline.
Air Kazakhstan will be owned by the Central Asian country’s sovereign wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna, which also holds a 51% stake in national carrier Air Astana.
Reuters reported last week that the new airline will start taking delivery of a fleet of 10 Bombardier Q400 aircraft this year, with flights expected to launch in early 2015.
And Air Astana’s president, Peter Foster, confirmed the move on Friday.
“Air Astana has been involved in the discussions of the formation of a regional airline with our majority shareholder, Samruk-Kazyna, since we retired the Fokker 50 fleet last January,” said Foster.
“There are many domestic airports we cannot serve with our all jet fleet, and it was therefore imperative that steps be taken to serve these cities with modern turboprops operating to internationally compliant standards. Bombardier’s Q400 clearly meets this criterion.
“We welcome the decision, and expect to work closely with the new airline to jointly develop these markets for the benefit of both airlines,” Foster added.
Air Astana currently operates a fleet of Boeing, Airbus and Embraer jet aircraft on key domestic, regional and international routes. The new Air Kazakhstan would use its turboprop aircraft to fly to smaller domestic destinations, potentially feeding passengers into Air Astana’s international network.
With the exception of Air Astana, all other Kazakh carriers are on the European aviation blacklist.