Scheduled commercial aviation in Kazakhstan has returned to something closer to normality following a dramatic deterioration in the security situation earlier in January.
Passenger air traffic within the enormous Central Asian nation all but ground to a halt as anti-government protests spiralled into violence, with Almaty Airport among the sites targeted. The country’s main gateway was closed to scheduled services on the evening of January 5 and remained out of action until January 13.
Flydubai, SCAT Airlines, Qazak Air and Nordwind Airlines were among the carriers to resume their links to and from Almaty, albeit with the airport operating reduced opening hours of 0800hrs to 2100hrs as the security situation stabilises.
Sani Şener, president and CEO of TAV Airports – the operator of the Almaty facility said: “In cooperation with Kazakh authorities, we ensured the safety of our passengers and employees. With the security forces restoring order... as of January 13, we opened the airport to flights after obtaining the necessary permits.
"We believe in the future of Kazakhstan, which is the largest country in Central Asia geographically and economically and with the normalisation of daily life in the country, flight traffic will quickly recover."
The Air Astana Group accounts for more than half of all passenger traffic in the Central Asian country
The impact of the state of emergency was particularly severe for the Air Astana Group. The company – which comprises both the national carrier and budget offshoot FlyArystan – told Key.Aero that 178 international and 621 domestic flights were cancelled between January 5-12.
A spokesperson added that services from Nur-Sultan and regional Kazakh cities were not as badly affected, with many resuming on or around January 7. By January 19, Air Astana confirmed that it had fully restored its network, including regular flights to Colombo, Male, Phuket, London, Dubai, Antalya, Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan).