B&R News: Cathay Pacific and Air Astana announce partnership, boosting links between countries in new Silk Road plan
6 Mar 2018


Hong Kong's flagship carrier on Monday announced a partnership with the national airline of one of Central Asia's economic pioneers – Kazakhstan – giving it a stronger foothold in a region integral to the “Belt and Road Initiative”, China's global trade development strategy.

Starting this month, Cathay Pacific Airways and Air Astana will sell tickets and market flights on each other's routes across Asia and Australia under a code-share agreement.

The deal gives Cathay Pacific access to the resource-rich emerging economy associated with some of the largest Belt and Road projects, including the Khorgos Gateway dry port on its border with mainland China, rail links to London and Iran and the mega Central Asian gas pipeline.


For Air Astana, it means riding on Hong Kong's flagship airline to offer passengers from Central Asia greater and smoother access to Southeast Asia and Australia.“The real commercial value is the network,” Air Astana vice-president of marketing and sales Richard Ledger told the Post in an interview. To partner with Cathay, Air Astana dropped its existing commercial code-share deal with the city's third-largest carrier, Hong Kong Airlines.


"We are after the best partner in each hub for distribution. Clearly Cathay are the best,”Ledger explained, adding that the Hong Kong Airlines arrangement did not give the airline what Cathay could.


Under the deal, the CX code will be added to Air Astana's non-stop flights between Hong Kong and Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, and flights between it and the capital Astana, from the middle of this month.

Cathay will also code-share Air Astana's flights from Almaty to Bangkok and Seoul. In return, Air Astana will add a third weekly service between Almaty and Hong Kong from March 25 and place its KC code on selected Cathay flights between Hong Kong, Singapore and major Australian cities.


"We are delighted to join with Air Astana,” Cathay Pacific commercial director Ronald Lam Siu-por said in a statement. "With its vibrant economy, which is set to grow as a result of its integral role in the Belt and Road Initiative, and beautiful natural landscapes, Kazakhstan has many attractions for both business and leisure travellers alike.”

Transport equity analyst Corrine Png described the deal as “win-win”, as both carriers could benefit from each other’s competitive advantages, even though the financial impact would be “marginal”.


"China Southern Airlines, Air China and Hainan Airlines already operate flights to Kazakhstan so Cathay is already slightly late in the game to leverage on the growing Belt and Road traffic longer-term,” she said.

Source: South China Morning Post