Astana has a new air harbor – the Astana International Airport has just opened its new International Terminal. It is brand new, modern and highly functional. The new terminal has doubled the traffic capacity of the airport and increased flight connections. As the new terminal is reaching its full operational capacity, the Chairman of the airport, Paolo Ricciotti sat down with Kazakh TV to talk about its perspectives.

 

PAOLO RICCIOTTI, CHAIRMAN, ASTANA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:

Mr. Ricciotti, could you tell us about the main characteristics of the new terminal?

-  It’s a unique terminal in its nature more because it was modified from its original concept which was the stand alone terminal and in order to comply with Nurly Zhol program which sees Astana as the main hub of Central Asia. We entirely changed concept, the design concept of the terminal. So, we developed five-floor building one of the ground floors above the ground and most importantly we connected the old terminal with the new terminal by means of three separate links. So, what you see up there is not a terrace it’s a domestic departure terminal connected with the old one. The international one and this possible because of the massive construction you see on the side there which is called the pier, which allows multifunction boarding in the  plane of the passengers. So we have four-level facility. Top one is for arriving-departing domestic passenger. The core one is international departure, one below is international arrival plus we have bus gates, so it’s a unique design there is no such thing anywhere in the world. It is quite unique. The design of the terminal as such has been combined old and the new. We created a very flexible structure. And normally when you travel to another part of the world that is connected from international to domestic, you have to walk a long distance. Here we changed it, we went vertical, and so it’s much easier.

How is the security ensured?

- The security is ensured because we have a complete separation of flux of different passengers of course. We have security for passenger and security for baggage. Passengers we have security screening for both transfer passenger, journey passengers of course, and for baggage we have on the basements the baggage system which is capable of 1,200 baggage per hour and deploys the latest technology. Imagine that we have a machine that can scan the baggage 360 degree even though the baggage doesn’t move. This is complies with EU regulation of 2020. So, can we say that Kazakhstan is ahead of Europe now? The equipment is fantastic, it’s the first of its kind in Kazakhstan and we are very proud of it.

This terminal is actually the gate to Kazakhstan for the expo visitors and international delegates that are coming into Kazakhstan. How do you think this is reflected in the design of the new airport?

 -  We wanted to have a mix of modernity, to represent the modernity of the capital of Kazakhstan Astana, the simplicity of the lines, the elegance of the future and yet to maintain the Kazakh characteristic. So if you see all around you’ll see Kazakh notice coming up to make sure the people do not misunderstand for a moment they are not in Kazakhstan, they are in Kazakhstan, there are elements. We have shops duty free which is called ‘Spirit of Kazakhstan’ and they only sell Kazakh-made products, so we try to have a very clear mark on Kazakhstan. The rest we have a yurt, so its old tradition mixed in the modernity of the style. It’s what Astana is. It’s a combination of cultures and modernity.

What is the passenger traffic capacity now? How has the new terminal enhanced the functionality, operational activity of the airport?

 -  The old terminal design capacity of three million passengers per year. The last year we had 3.6 and this structure with just 47,000 square meters will offer the capacity of 4.6 million passengers. So, combined capacity will be 8.2 million which will be able to push up to 9 million depending on number of transfer passengers. You correctly say is the end transport for expo but it’s just a beginning because expo will be a good memory in September 11 and onwards and this reality will stay. From the beginning of preparation in June we recorded significant increase of number of traffic, which is the reflection of both attractiveness of this terminal of the attractiveness of Astana as the capital. Air Astana increased the international flights by 33% with the new carrier coming in operation to Astana to they will welcome Finnair, Air China, Polish Airlines started end of last month. So, all good sign of a dream coming true – Astana is becoming the hub of Central Asia.

 

What are your wishes to the Kazakh people and to people coming to Astana?

 -  First of all the biggest wish I have is people to realize this structure and be proud of it because this is something to be proud of, ok. It’s the first of its kind in Kazakhstan. It’s the first of its kind in the whole Central Asia. I mean we have the airports, mega airports have been opened in the region which cost fortune much more than this and yet they haven’t traffic to sustain. This airport will have the traffic; will have the flexibility with economical scale that will make it the first airport of its kind.

So you believe in its future?

 -  I believe in its future, I believe that Astana according to our projector in 2025 will gather about 50% of all the traffic in Kazakhstan. The next step after launching this terminal is starting the processes to attack the cargo side, also in cargo, there is a huge potential and we think Astana can make it. 

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