|New airline hopes to link Croatia with Kazakhstan|
The Chinese Southeast Europe Business Association (CSEBA), which intends to launch a new regional airline, attended the Astana Economic Forum late last week to discuss the possibility of launching flights between Zagreb and Kazakhstan. CSEBA representatives held talks with SCAT Airlines regarding the launch of scheduled services from Zagreb to the Kazakh capital Astana. This is despite the fact that SCAT Airlines is currently banned from operating in European airspace, as is the case with all other airlines certified by the authorities with responsibility for regulatory oversight in Kazakhstan, with the exception to flag carrier Air Astana. In a statement, CSEBA said, “We had a series of meetings with key Kazakh state company representatives. CSEBA also met with SCAT Airlines officials and discussed establishing regular flights between Zagreb and Astana”.
CSEBA, which aims to boost cooperation between China and the countries of the former Yugoslavia, recently announced plans to create a new airline which will launch direct flights between Zagreb and Belgrade, connecting the two cities for the first time in 23 years. In addition, the airline plans to provide charters between Croatia and China, as well as Central Asia. According to the Chinese Southeast Europe Business Association, “ticket prices are expected to be in the range of low cost airlines”. The Association aims to profit from far off markets such as China and Kazakhstan which hold huge potential for Croatia’s tourism industry.
Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country and the ninth largest country overall. Several European airlines operate flights to Kazakhstan’s two busiest airports - Astana and Almaty. They include British Airways, Austrian, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, KLM, Ukraine International Airlines, Transaero, ČSA Czech Airlines, Pegasus Airlines and Belavia as well as Greece’s Aegean Airlines on a seasonal summer basis. Both airports offer good connections to the rest of Asia, in particular to China, South Korea, Vietnam, India, and former Soviet republics in central Asia as well as the Middle East. IATA projects Kazakhstan will be the world’s fastest growing domestic and international market over the next five years, with 20.3% annual growth for domestic air travel in Kazakhstan and 22.5% annual growth for international air travel.