Air Astana has cancelled the planned launch of flights connecting the capitals of Kazakhstan and Mongolia due to the revocation of permission by the Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia (CAAM). The carrier had been due to launch direct Astana-Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator) flights from June 2, 2016.
An Air Services Agreement between the two countries was signed in 1992 and the memorandum of understanding establishing the number of flights to be operated was signed in 2014.
In a statement, the Kazakh carrier said it started the flight permission application process that normally takes two months, eight months before the first flight and successfully completed the audit by CAAM and was informed that there were “zero findings.” Permission to start flights was granted in March 2016.
In April 2016, however, the CAA of Mongolia unilaterally withdrew permission without any valid grounds, according to Air Astana.
Air Astana will refer the matter to the ICAO
Despite efforts by the Kazakhstan government and Air Astana itself, CAAM has not reversed its revocation quoting a range of ungrounded and changing list of reasons. These include the audit for which the airline has a confirmation it passed with zero findings; unavailability of the Ulaanbaatar Airport in June for the ASEM Summit in the middle of July; and latest an alleged blacklist by ICAO while Air Astana has never been blacklisted for any operation to any country.
Kazakhstan believes that Mongolia is in breach of the provisions of the Chicago Convention, and will refer the matter to the ICAO Council accordingly, the Air Astana statement noted.
Air Astana operates a fleet of 30 aircraft including the 767-300ER, 757-200, A320 family and Embraer E-190. The carrier will take delivery of 11 A320neo family aircraft, including four A321 LR between 2016-2019 and three 787s in 2019.
The 2001-established airline is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna, and BAE Systems from the UK, with respective shares of 51% and 49% respectively.
Nol van Fenema