, 1er journal des professionnels du tourisme francophone

Air Astana: the company from Kazakstan wants to conquer the French market

Three weekly flights between Paris and Kazakstan

Air Astana will launch its first direct flight between Paris and Astana on March 29th, 2015. An opportunity to revisit the projects of a young company that feed the great ambitions on the French market.

Rédigé par Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher le Jeudi 26 Février 2015

Air Astana will fly from Paris three times a week. - Photo DR
Air Astana will fly from Paris three times a week. - Photo DR
Very few people can locate Kazakstan on a world map.

Located on the borders of Central Asia, touching Russia and former Soviet socialist republics, the destination usually makes headlines for energy resources and the controversial personality of its president on a “life-long” term, Noursoultan Nazarbaïev, rather than its touristic attractions.

But the official visit of François Hollande in December 2014 (wearing a chapka and an embroidered coat) seems to have brought the country in the spotlight.

Kazakstan is, in fact, a large producer of petroleum, thanks to its important reserves close to the Caspian Sea.

It also became the first uranium producer in the world.

Not surprising that some French company have settled there, like Total, Areva, or GDF Suez, but also Sanofi, Carrefour or even Alstom, regrouped within the French Business Circle in Kazakstan.

Seduce the business clientele

So the national company Air Astana primarily wants to seduce businessmen by opening its direct flights between Paris and Astana, the capital.

The city will be linked to three times per week (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) with a Boeing 757-200 with two cabins: 16 business class seats and 150 in economy.

The business class is often full, so Air Astana developed a concept called Economy Sleeper.

It enables the traveler paying a full economy class price (€1,685) to benefit from a row of three seats at the front of the economy class.

He can thus lay down on a mattress placed on those three seats, cozy up in a blanket and, spend a comfortable night. Except from the meal, he will enjoy the same advantages as the business class.

… and adventure TOs

Beyond a business clientele, the company is also targeting the leisure market. Especially following the changes from last June: a visa is not necessary anymore for stays less than two weeks.

In France, only the tour-operator specialized in hunting and fishing, DHD Laïka, sends a few clients to the country.

“Of course, the destination will never attract a massive number of people. But we want to seduce visitors looking for new experiences and incredible trips,” explains Michèle Bernard, Director of the agency Discover the World, that represents the company in France.

Kazakstan can come up as a detour during a “silk discovery” tour that would sometimes stop at the south of the country. The network of roads of the Chang’an-Tian-shan corridor, one of the portion on this mythical road, is listed as a world UNESCO site.

“We would like to develop the interest of tour operators specialized in adventure and wilderness,” hopes Emmanuel Guillaume.

He has just taken over the management of communication and marketing for the company on the French market.

After working at Air France-KLM in South-East Asia, he hopes to rapidly reach profitability with this Paris-Astana line to increase the number of flights.

Air Astana: the Embraer blacklisted

All of Kazakstan’s transports are blacklisted. As for Air Astana, only the Embraer 190 are listed in the Annex B. They operate on medium-haul lines.

The Boeing 757 that flies to Paris as well as the Boeing 767 and the Airbuses 319/320/212 are excluded.

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