Air Astana will defer the arrival of its first Boeing 787-8s for two years until 2019 amid concerns that the devaluation of the Kazakhstani tenge has dampened demand, chief executive Peter Foster says.
The Almaty-based carrier had been due to receive the first of three 787s in 2017 but is now delaying them all to 2019.
“We are slightly dancing around that one as there was a devaluation of the currency in February this year primarily driven by economic events in the region and the market did take a hit at that time as indeed did our balance sheet,” Foster said during a London media event.
Foster says the carrier had forecast it would increase capacity and revenue by 14% this year along similar lines to previous years but says "after devaluation we decided to put the brakes on that. So we have slammed the anchors on, this year we will have nil capacity growth this year".
“Naturally I am conscious of the need to maintain a strong balance sheet and cash so I felt that all that capacity coming in 2017 it would be too much,” he adds.
Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows Air Astana has three firm 787 orders with an additional eight options.
The Air Astana chief says the carrier has no plans to firm up any of those options for the time being, saying he is more interested at this point in Boeing’s plans for a reconstituted 757.
The carrier is currently building a maintenance facility in Astana to accommodate the 787.