Air Astana is launching several new flights between Kazakhstan and key Asian cities, particularly those in China, as the country’s business links with the region continue to grow rapidly.
The airline will start a twice-weekly service between the Kazakh capital of Astana and Beijing from August 25, the first airline to fly between the two cities. Flight KC 227 will leave Astana at 1525 on Wednesdays and Saturdays, landing in Beijing at 2235. For the return leg, Flight KC228 will leave Beijing at 2345 on the same days, touching down at 0400 in Astana.
Currently Air Astana operates flights between Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty and Beijing five times a week. With the new flights, there will effectively be a daily service from the country to Beijing.
China is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner. Earlier this month the Kazakh television channel Caspionet reported that trade between the two countries had increased by almost 30 per cent in the first half of this year, totalling US$8.7 billion. Kazakhstan exported over US$6 billion of good to China, mostly crude oil, petroleum and metal products.
The Kazakh flag carrier also plans to launch a twice-weekly service between Hong Kong and Almaty from August 28. Flight KC279 will depart from the Kazakh city at 0135 on Tuesdays and Fridays, landing in Hong Kong at 0945. The return leg will depart Hong Kong on the same days at 2215, arriving back in Almaty at 0315 on Saturday morning.
A spokesperson for Air Astana said the airline expected more than 60 per cent of passengers on the route to be travelling for business. They said increasing business partnerships between the two places meant there was a high demand for travel on this route.
“The strongest relationship between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan is in the financial sector,” they said. “There are several projects between Hong Kong and companies in Kazakhstan, including joint investment funds. Besides major financial links, we also expect significant traffic to be generated from SMEs, who also have important financial and trading relations established in Hong Kong and southeast China”
On July 26, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan gave a further boost to business relations by announcing an agreement where citizens of either country could visit the other and stay for 14 days without a visa.
Air Astana also expects travellers from Kazakhstan to use these Hong Kong-bound flights to connect to onward destinations in other parts of Asia, including Guangzhou, Japan, and the Philippines.
Alongside increasing flights to China, Air Astana has also revealed it will introduce flights to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam this December and a new route to Mumbai is also being considered for later in the year.