Air Astana removed from EU blacklist and privatisation programme

Kazakhstan’s national carrier Air Astana has been cleared to operate flights in Europe next year after the the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) yesterday removed it from the EU’s Air Safety blacklist. The airline has faced restrictions on flying into the EU since 2009 and the decision comes in a momentous two week for the carrier that has seen it secure a $14m loan from the EBRD to finance Kazakhstan’s – and Central Asia’s – first aircraft maintenance facility, and its removal from the list of state-run enterprises that are being put up for privatisation next year.
The EASA ruling appears to have influenced the government’s decision to hold on to its stake in airline. “We are not holding any negotiations with  third parties….  on the possible sale of Air Astana” the Civil Aviation Committee of the Kazakh Investments and Development Ministry announced this week. “Astana Airlines is the only [Kazakh airline] enjoying access  to Europe. It is also a large profitable structure not needing any financial support from the government.” The Committee went on to explain that if Kazakhstan did not retain control of the airline, the terms of intergovernmental agreements on air communication would restrict its capacity to operate international flights.