Kazakhstan’s flag carrier Air Astana has taken delivery of its first A320 equipped with Airbus’ sharklet fuel-saving wing-tip devices (pictured) – the 13th airline in the world to operate the new-build aircraft with the technology.
Powered by IAE V2500 engines, the carrier’s A320s feature a two-class cabin configuration, seating 148 passengers with 16 in business class and 132 in economy.
Sharklets, made from lightweight composites and standing 2.4 metres tall, improve the aircraft’s aerodynamics and cut fuel burn and emissions by four per cent on longer sectors. They add either about 100 nautical miles to the aircraft’s range or up to 450 kilograms in payload capacity. Air Astana also estimates that the sharklet-equipped A320 can reduce carbon emissions by up to 1,000 tons per aircraft per year.
The airline is one of the fastest-expanding airlines in the world, having announced growth rates of 16 per cent in revenue (to US$870 million) and 14 per cent in capacity from 2012. The airline took delivery of two Airbus 321s, an Airbus 320 and two Embraer 190s last year while retiring its entire fleet of Fokker 50s. This year, other than this new sharklet-equipped delivery, there will be two more A320 aircraft, two new Embraer 190s and two new Boeing 767s joining the airline.
Air Astana is keen to become the hub of Central Asia (see story). Like its national airline, the country of Kazakhstan is also performing well economically. See “Steppes of progress” in the May issue of Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.