Kazakhstan 2017 | TRANSPORT | COLUMN

TBY talks to Paolo Ricciotti Chairman, Astana International Airport, on the sector.

Paolo Ricciotti

How has the airport prepared for Expo 2017 and what facilities are in place to make the passenger experience more comfortable?

There will be 2 million visitors in total; however, this includes road, rail, and air and the overall estimate for air arrivals via Astana Airport is only 380,000. Airlines do not see the need at the moment for additional flights; however, for the Expo we will have new carriers starting operations here and have already partnered with LOT Polish Airlines for four flights a week with Wizzair to connect Astana and Budapest. Finnair will operate only in July and August but we hope to convince it to stay, while Air China plans to open the Beijing and Shanghai routes. Air Astana will add 20 additional international flights from June, so we are building up the traffic. We are prepared to receive many more passengers if the Expo exceeds expectations.

What is your outlook for 2017?

2017 will be better than before. We will open a brand-new terminal that is unique; there is nothing similar in the world. Normally in airports passengers who arrive in the domestic terminal and depart from the international have to walk a long way, for example Frankfurt, London, or Paris. In this airport that is not the case; instead of going horizontal we went vertical, which makes it unique in that respect.