Young Kazakhstan state-owned regional airline Qazaq Air and China Express Airlines, China’s first private regional airline, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on strategic cooperation in international regional passenger transportation, as well as the possible participation of the Chinese carrier in the privatisation of Qazaq Air, the Kazakh airline has revealed in a statement.
The MOU was inked during the recent official visit to China of Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at which a meeting of the Kazakh-Chinese Business Council saw Blair Trekern Pollock, chairman of the board of Qazaq Air, and Longjiang Wu, chairman of the board of China Express Airlines, sign the document.
“With this memorandum, the two regional airlines will have the opportunity to discuss the exchange of cross-border passenger traffic and the possibility of direct financial investment by China Express Airlines into the development of our company,” states Blair Treherne Pollock.
Noting the significance of the agreement, Long-Jiang Wu stressed the importance of activating regional Kazakh-Chinese cooperation in the One Belt, One Road initiative. In this context, the mutually beneficial cooperation between Qazaq Air and China Express Airlines is a continuation of a good-neighbourly partnership aimed at strengthening trade and economic ties between the two countries.
Since its launch in August 2015, Qazaq Air, which is 100 per cent-owned by state-run Samruk-Kazyna Fund, has served more than 530,000 passengers, in doing so becoming the growth leader in the Kazakhstan air travel market. The outlook for this year is optimistic, with the airline expecting at least 20 per cent growth to reach a targeted 300,000 passengers.
Qazaq Air is expecting to take delivery of two new Bombardier Q400 next-gen aircraft in the spring of 2019. The fleet will thus extend to five aircraft of the type. The airline currently operates three 78-seat, Canadian-built turboprops, with an average age of less than three years.
China Express (also known as Huaxia Airlines) became China’s first private regional carrier when it was established in 2006. It operates a fleet of 35 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets, along with three Airbus A320s and is based at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, in south-west China.