Kazakhstan’s Air Astana has taken delivery of its first Airbus A321neo, which is on an operating lease from Dublin-based lessor AerCap. The deal includes two further A321neos and one A320neo scheduled for delivery this year. 

The PW1133G-powered A321neo is configured with 28 business- and 151 economy-class seats.

The Kazak flag carrier currently operates 13 A320s and one A320neo, which was delivered in November 2016. The neo fleet will grow to 17 aircraft by 2020, comprising six A320neos, seven A321neos and four A321neoLRs.

All aircraft will be leased according to agreements signed in 2015 for 11 aircraft, and in 2017 for six.

The carrier expects to become one of the largest A320neo family operators in Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In early December 2017, the airline said it completed its aviation and technical center in Astana, which will provide engineering support for Air Astana as well as for other carriers operating flights to Kazakhstan. The company has not yet announced an opening date.

Air Astana said the facility will likely prove to be a leading center of its kind in Central Asia. All types of aircraft repair can be carried out, including heavy maintenance. The airline plans to set up workshops to repair aircraft components, perform composite repairs, and conduct non-destructive testing on site. The center will create 190 jobs.

Astana is Kazakhstan’s capital and the carrier’s second hub following Almaty.

For 2017, Air Astana carried  4.2 million passengers, up 12% year-over-year.

Air Astana operates flights to more than 60 domestic and international routes from hubs in Astana and Almaty. Its fleet includes Boeing 767-300ER, 757-200, Airbus A319, A320, A320neo, A321 and Embraer E190 aircraft.

Kurt Hofmann hofmann.aviation@netway.at