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The flag-carrier for Kazakhstan, Air Astana is expanding quickly and embarking on new routes for itself and for its low-cost carrier, Fly Arystan.

Fly Arystan 737 MAX-8   © Boeing

During the Dubai Air Show, Air Astana gave a vote of confidence to the beleaguered manufacturer Boeing, by ordering 30 737-MAX 8 for delivery in 2021. The aircraft are expected to be deployed by Fly Arystan.

Air Astana 757-200s to be phased out  ©flickr

Thus far, Air Arystan has only flown domestic services; no small operation though, given the size of the central Asian republic; it’s larger than all of western Europe. However its first international route, to Moscow, is due to commence next week.

Air Astana itself is replacing its aging 757-200s by purchasing seven examples of the Airbus A321LR. In terms of international routes, the airline currently flies to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul, and while expected to maintain these, Astana is considering using the new Airbus to Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. The LR will be configured with 150 economy seats and 16 business and has a range of 5425km. (2930nm)

Could Astana become a new hub between Europe and the far East? It’s possible; if the airport can cope with the transfers. (and the prices can compete!) For example, to fly from Paris to Shanghai via Dubai is 11 667km (on a perfect great circle) and via Astana it’s 9381km; a 20% saving on distance and perhaps 2.5 hours less in the air. Frankfurt to Singapore is the same distance via Dubai or Astana.

And for a holiday or stop-over? If you’ve been to Alicante and Athens, why not Astana? There are three world heritage sites in the country and it’s on the ancient trade route of the Silk Road linking China and the West, with the cultural heritage of 131 ethnicities.

One thing for sure; your holiday money will go a lot further!

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