Air Astana has signed a letter of intent to order 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8s to provide the backbone of its new low-cost airline, FlyArystan. The troubled MAX aircraft has yet to return to service after being grounded in March, but it is envisaged that the type will be declared fit to re-enter service next year.
The announcement, made at the Dubai Airshow, has a list price value of $3.6 billion.
Since beginning operations in May 2002, Air Astana has steadily grown its business from its hubs in Almaty and Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), sprouting a network that serves cities across Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Asia, China, Europe and Russia. It operates a growing fleet that includes the Boeing 757, 767 and the Airbus A320 family.
In May, Air Astana launched FlyArystan to better compete in the growing low-cost segment and the airline said it plans to expand its fast-growing domestic network, with international services to Moscow commencing next month.
“Since its launch in May this year, FlyArystan has exceeded all expectations and it is clear that low cost air travel has a great future in Kazakhstan and Central Asia,” said Peter Foster, president and CEO of Air Astana.
“Air Astana has had a strong relationship with Boeing ever since the airline started flying in 2002 with a pair of 737NGs. Today we operate both 757s and 767s and we believe that the MAX will provide a solid platform for the growth of FlyArystan throughout our region, once the aircraft has successfully returned to service”.