Air Astana has marked its ninth anniversary with the addition of its first new Embraer E-190 aircraft. The new aircraft was received at a ceremony in Almaty attended by VIPs, government officials and the media. The new E-190 will help the Kazakhstani carrier increase domestic and regional services from Almaty, the carrier’s hub for Central Asia, with new services to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and Samara in southern Russia starting on 2 June 2011.
The aircraft arrived on 30 April and has already started operating on domestic routes from Almaty to Karaganda, Pavlodar, Aktau and Atyrau, as well as on regional routes from Almaty to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgystan.
Air Astana will expand to a fleet of six Embraer E-190s, with three leased aircraft being delivered in 2011 and two purchased plus one further leased aircraft arriving in 2012. Air Astana’s E-190s are configured with 97 seats in a two-class layout and will operate alongside the existing fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft on the regional/domestic network. The new aircraft will also gradually replace the airline’s fleet of six Fokker 50 turboprops, which will all be retired by the end of 2012.
A total of 23 Air Astana pilots have been trained to fly the Embraer E-190, with more crews for the next two aircraft already under training in Paris. Pilot training for the E-190 will soon be brought in-house however, following the installation of an Enhanced Virtual Procedures Trainer (EVPT) at Air Astana’s pilot training facility in Almaty.
“The Embraer E-190’s range, efficiency, size and passenger comfort is ideal for Air Astana and will enable us to further grow our network within Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the CIS, as we continue to develop our position as the region’s airline of choice in terms of network and service. We expect to expand our E190 fleet in the future as more traffic flows onto our long haul Asian and European services out of Almaty,” said Peter Foster, President of Air Astana.