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Ministry of Transport explains high costs of domestic flights in Kazakhstan

07 june 2014, 14:03
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Photo courtesy of kofr.info
Photo courtesy of kofr.info

The Ministry of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan has responded to a complaint about costliness of domestic flights air tickets, Tengrinews reports.

During yesterday's round table dedicated to supporting domestic tourism, an entrepreneur, whose business is located in Lake Alakol resort area, brought up the problem of the high prices on air tickets.

"We are talking here about our domestic tourism being overly expensive. Let us consider the air tickets issue. A Semey – Almaty flight cost 28 thousand tenge ($153) one way. This brings the return ticket to 60 thousand tenge ($327), and this is domestic market we are talking about. Everywhere in the world domestic flights are cheaper that international ones. Semey - Astana flight costs 22 thousand tenge ($120). Where are we going? I fly from Almaty to the United Arab Emirates for 60 thousand tenge ($327). If things go on this way, the business will suffocate,” the businessman said.

Deputy Chairman of the Civil Aviation Committee of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Transport and Communications Talgat Lastayev explained that there were some flights that were subsidized by the government, but most of the destinations were purely commercial ones.

"East Kazakhstan Oblast is the only region where we subsidize Almaty - Urdzhar route a year round. We do not restrict the airlines: if there is a demand, a commercial benefit, they can make the flights more often. We have a liberalized domestic market," he said.

But there are a total of seven routs in Kazakhstan that are subsidized by the government some way or another, he continued. "We have a subsidy program on air routes which basically connects the capital with other regions. The program has been running since 2001, and every year we subsidize seven air routes. Astana – Semey route was subsidized until 2012, but we have certain requirements. If the demand for a subsidized flight becomes high and the planes fly 100 percent full, then we transfer the route back into the commercial environment," as was the case with Astana-Semey flight, he explained.

"Jet fuel is responsible for 30 percent of the cost; and the fuel costs have been increased twice over the last three years. Currently, it is at almost $1,200 per ton. You know there was a devaluation (of tenge by 20% in February), and the air companies form their budgets abroad. This drives the local prices up,” Talgat Lastayev said.

“Regarding Dubai, a ticket purchased right before the flight costs 200 000 ($1 090), for example, on Nauryz (a national holiday in Kazakhstan). So the cost depends on when and how have you buy the ticket, and it is not entirely correct to compare the costs. Besides, Arab airlines are subsidized by the state, while our airlines are commercial," he concluded.

Reporting by Assemgul Kassenova, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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