Almaty is a major cultural centre

and creaking infrastructure, which was managed under the remnants of a former Soviet regulatory framework. However, it now has a strong national carrier in the form of Air Astana, a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s Samruk Kazyna National Welfare Fund and BAE Systems, and independent competition from the likes of Bek-Air, SCAT Air Company and the recently established state-controlled domestic operator Qazaq Air. Almaty remains the major commercial and cultural centre of Kazakhstan, as well as its biggest population centre. It is served by Almaty International

Airport, which this summer is linked to 15 domestic points and 31 international destinations by 25 carriers. Its departure capacity is pretty evenly split between domestic and international seats, with the important Almaty-Astana corridor accounting for 48.2% of domestic and 24.5% of total capacity. Overall capacity is up 1.1% this summer and although direct flights are no longer offered to the likes of London, Prague, Samara and the domestic points of Taraz and Urdzhar, a new link has been established by Yamal Airlines from Ekaterinburg in Russia.

Additional flights have also been added by Air Astana to Tehran, Aeroflot to Moscow Sheremetyevo, KLM to Astana and onwards to Amsterdam and Qazaq Air to Semey, while capacity growth has also been seen in a number of markets including Dubai and Sharjah in the

United Arab Emirates and Kyzylorda within Kazakhstan.

A capital focus While Almaty highlights old Kazakhstan, the planned city of Astana illustrates the new and became the capital of Kazakhstan in December 1997. The city is served by Astana International Airport, which this summer is linked to 15 domestic points and 26 international destinations by 25 carriers. Its departure capacity is more heavily biased to the domestic market (60.2% this summer), but is expected to see significant international growth in the future as it gains more significance. Astana will be the host city for the

Expo 2017 international exhibition between June 10 and September 10, 2017, with a legacy that will see the site become a financial centre for the country. The event is expected to attract exhibitors from more than 100 countries, with participation by 15 international organisations and 10 leading innovation and technology companies. “We are the capital of one of the most developed countries of the world, which is known for its natural resources, so we are the perfect place for people to consider the question of future energy and renewable resources,” Alisher Pirmetov, director general – first deputy chairman of the board of the organiser told Routes News during a recent visit to Astana. “One of the most important goals for Astana Expo 2017 will be the w ROUTES NEWS 2016 ISSUE 5 25

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