Saturday, 25 May 2019

Air Astana appoints Janet Heckman as independent non-executive director after airline celebrates its seventeenth anniversary

Air Astana, the leading airline in Central Asia, announces the appointment of Janet Heckman as an Independent Non-Executive Director. Janet now chairs the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee as well as the Nomination and Remuneration Committee.

Janet has significant business strategy and planning experience and previously headed the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)’s operations in Kazakhstan before becoming the Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED). During her tenure in Kazakhstan, she contributed to a significant increase in the EBRD’s footprint and impact in the country, including the expansion of its network of local offices. She was also instrumental in designing and implementing a ground-breaking and multi-faceted Enhanced Partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan. An American national, Janet joined the EBRD in 2012 following a long career at Citi where she was Managing Director for corporate banking activities in Algeria, having held many field roles in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and in Bahrain. She also had responsibility for global relationship banking across Citi’s Central Eastern Europe Middle East Africa (CEEMEA) region.

Peter Foster, President & CEO of Air Astana commented: “We are delighted to welcome a director of Janet’s calibre to the Board. She has extensive experience of the markets in which we operate, she has successfully driven expansion and she brings terrific knowledge of how Governance and CSR efforts can be showcased to evidence good corporate citizenship to enhance interaction with a broad range of stakeholders.”

Janet Heckman added: “Air Astana has established itself as the leading airline in Central Asia. The airline has terrific growth potential and a track record for excellence across its operations. The opportunity to share my experience and add value excites me and I am thrilled to be joining such an experienced and multinational team.”

Air Astana has grown so dramatically since the first flight was performed between Almaty and Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana) on 15th May 2002, the airline has carried a total of 44 million passengers and performed almost 500,000 flights. Air Astana’s route network currently extends to more than 60 international and domestic flights, with the fleet comprising of 34 Airbus, Boeing and Embraer aircraft. 

The Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UK company, BAE Systems PLC invested US$17 mln in the airline at the outset. Since 2002, Air Astana has paid more than US$435 mln in taxes and other payments to the state budget and has created over 5,000 professional jobs. The growth of the company has been achieved entirely with internal and loaned funds, with no demands on the state budget, which makes the airline one of the most profitable state investments.

Air Astana continues to recruit young people who dream of becoming pilots under the airline’s ab-initio program. Since 2009, Air Astana has trained more than 200 young Kazakh ab-initio pilots at prestigious international flight schools.

In May this year, Air Astana took a major initiative by launching of FlyArystan, a low-cost airline. FlyArystan was created to stimulate the domestic market and attract wider section of the Kazakh population to travel by air and serve international destinations in the future.

This year also marked the arrival of Air Astana’s second Embraer 190-E2 aircraft, with delivery of three further aircraft by the end of 2019. Deliveries of the new fleet of Airbus A320neo also continues, with 13 aircraft scheduled to arrive by the end of 2020. Air Astana’s route network includes more than 60 international and domestic flights, and the fleet consists of 34 modern aircraft. The airline operates in full compliance with international technical standards.

Air Astana’s commitment to deliver the very highest levels of passenger experience has been recognized by the global travel website TripAdvisor for the second year in succession, with the airline being named as the best “Regional Asian Carrier” and best for “Passenger Comfort in Asia”. Air Astana is also a seven-time winner of the Skytrax award for the Best Airline in Central Asia and India.

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