Kazakhstan’s national carrier Air Astana is increasing service frequencies for its summer schedule on almost a dozen of its routes flying out of Astana, as it looks to significantly grow its services operating out of the developing hub.

The expanded summer schedule – timed to coincide with Astana World Expo 2017 – will see flights from Astana to Tashkent in Uzbekistan increase to three times weekly, while flights to Beijing, Istanbul, and Tbilisi in Georgia will increase to four times weekly. Flight frequencies to London (announced back in February) and Omsk in Russia are set to rise to five weekly flights, while Urumqi in China will be upped to a six-per-week service. Air Astana’s Russia services from Astana to Novosibirsk, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, meanwhile, are set to become daily.

Along with the enhanced flight frequencies, the airline will also be resuming its service from Astana to Kiev in Ukraine on June 2 this year.

The expansion of services comes as Kazakhstan gears up to host the upcoming Expo 2017, which will be held in Astana from June 10 to September 10. Earlier this year, the Kazakh government introduced a number of changes to its visa policy, including visa-free travel for all EU and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries for up to 30 days, and simplified visa rules for a further 48 countries.

“Air Astana is delighted to announce a major expansion of services from Astana this summer, with much improved network connectivity between destinations in Asia, Central Asia, Caucasus, China, Europe and Russia,” said Peter Foster, the airline’s president and CEO. “Our passengers will travel smoothly through the new international terminal at Astana Airport, which is opening in time for the influx of visitors to Astana Expo 2017.”

According to the airline, 10 per cent of its business comes from transfer traffic, with this figure expected to double over the next few years. Astana Airport’s new terminal is set to officially open this summer, doubling the airport’s existing capacity to eight million passengers per year. Air Astana currently operates approximately 400 weekly flights from and to Astana.

Beginning commercial operations in May 2002, Air Astana now operates flights to more than 60 domestic and international routes from its Astana and Almaty hubs.