Dear Air Astana flyer,
In 2010, the year we introduced a strategy to promote international transit business via our Almaty and Astana hubs, we carried 10,000 transit passengers. In
2018 that number is set to reach 780,000. In 2019 we expect it to easily exceed one million. In the space of eight years we have developed a transit, or network business, from a point of insignificance to become more than one third of our total international passenger traffic. A significant number of transit passengers, expected to exceed 50,000 in 2018, stop in Kazakhstan for at least one night in either direction; Air Astana Stopover Holidays alone will have booked well over 25,000 room nights at Almaty and Astana hotels by the end of the year. It doesn’t take a huge amount of maths to calculate the benefits of this new business, not only to Air Astana, but to local hotels, airports, tour agencies and ground transportation companies, duty free and other shops, as well as local restaurants and entertainment outlets. In developing transit markets, we have followed the examples of 1980s Hong Kong and Singapore, both of which built their now-thriving tourist industries on the foundations of stopover business. When I was a trainee Cathay Pacific manager in Australia in the early 1980s, we marketed this as the Hong Kong “Shopover”, en route to London – a sharp piece of branding which exists to this day.
A major reason for our success, like that of Hong Kong and Singapore before us, has been the relaxation of requirements for tourist visas. Several years ago the Government of Kazakhstan waived visas for tourists from OECD countries for a maximum of 30 days. Last year, it introduced a visafree regime for people from China and
India for up to 72 hours on a one-year trial basis. This comes up for renewal shortly, and we urge the government to extend it for as long a period as possible, in order to take advantage of the obvious benefits it brings to so many people and providers. To our transit passengers reading this, if you have the time for a stopover in Kazakhstan en route to your next destination or back home, I urge you to take it – you will be surprised and delighted by the incredible attractions Kazakhstan has to offer!
I wish you and your families an enjoyable end of year and New Year festive season.
President & CEO Air Astana