Europe key for Air Astana partnership strategy

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Co-operation opportunities on the European end of routes will be the biggest driver behind Air Astana's decision on its future alliance and partnership strategy.

The unaligned Kazakh carrier has hired consultants Seabury Group to assist on its alliance and partnership strategy. "It's going to be very much driven by Europe, because so much of the traffic to Europe is through the gateways, so it really is the European end which will determine where our partnership priorities will lead," says Air Astana chief executive Peter Foster.

Air Astana already codeshares with three Star Alliance carriers - Asiana, Austrian and Turkish Airlines - as well as Etihad and SkyTeam carrier KLM. The airline is also talking to Air France about co-operation ahead of Air Astana's planned launch of Paris services next year.

While it is evaluating the benefits of a membership of a global alliance, if invited, Foster says the European element would still be the driver. "Airlines that enter a global alliance because they think its generally a good idea but don’t have any specific needs tend not to do well. We’re not interested in being in one just for the sake of it," he says. "If we moved in that direction it would be on the basis of very strong agreements on European routes."