Air Astana’s new low-cost carrier, FlyArystan, has launched today, making its first flights from Almaty International Airport.
The airline is starting with six domestic routes of journey times from one to three hours to Taraz, Shymkent, Pavlodar, Uralsk, Nur-Sultan (Astana) and Karaganda.
Air Astana supplied an initial two Airbus A320 aircraft from its fleet under its Air Operators Certificate and painted in FlyArystan’s red and white livery. A further two A320s will follow in the last quarter of the year, by which time FlyArystan plans to be operating at least 12 routes and will be looking at obtaining its own AOC.
The aircraft have been newly retrofitted with 180 brand new blue leather Recaro slim-line seats with red headrests. The seat will have a pitch of 29 inches, but the airline suggests that the curve of the seat and the high positioning of the seatback pockets will provide passengers with the feel of more space. The airline’s seats feature the same colours as the cabin crew uniforms which were designed by a local fashion house working closely with Air Astana’s in-flight team.
Tim Jordan, head of FlyArystan said the airline’s “courting a new generation of travellers” of people who either don’t travel or travel by train or bus. “We are pitching FlyArystan at the visiting friends and relatives market, primarily. In turn this will stimulate the leisure market as a second strand, together with an element of business travel.
“A number of destinations handed over to us by Air Astana will suit a different, more price-conscious demographic. Accordingly, we aim to introduce some purchase options giving flexibility for business flyers, including offering refunds or the ability to change tickets, albeit at higher tariffs,” Jordan continued.
On-board the aircraft, the FlyArystan café will enable passengers to purchase refreshments and snacks, including hot and cold drinks (including local beer), baguettes, pot noodles and chocolate bars.
Jordan welcomed Kazakhstan’s decision to implement legislative changes that enable airlines to start charging passengers for baggage, but said the airline is aiming to keep baggage costs in line with its low fares as it approaches new flyers.
Passengers can travel with 5kg of hand or cabin baggage without extra charge, but travelling with 10kg of luggage will incur a cost dependent on the length of the route.
The airline’s corporate identity is a lion which appears in its logo and livery. Jordan explained: “What we are doing with this new airline is delivering something new and different for the people of Kazakhstan. With our super low fares we are being brave and courageous – just like the lion – a popular and revered animal in Kazakhstan and central Asia.”