Air Astana looks set to finally take delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner some 13 years after placing an order for three 787-8s directly from Boeing. However, these Dreamliners aren’t thought to be from the pending Boeing order. Instead, three of the larger Boeing 787-9 will be leased from the Air Lease Corporation, with deliveries starting in 2025.
New aircraft deliveries are always exciting for airlines, especially when an airline has had to wait as long for a new type as Air Astana. However, we now finally have a rough date for the Kazakh flag carrier to take its first Dreamliner.
Earlier today, Air Astana Group CEO Peter Foster met with Steven Udvar-Házy, Executive Chairman of Air Lease Corporation (ALC). The meeting appeared to occur at the Kazakhstan Embassy in London, with Magzhan Ilyassov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also in attendance.
Photo: Air Astana
In the presence of the Ambassador, Air Astana signed a lease agreement with ALC for three Boeing 787-9s. Though few details have been released about the deal, aircraft should start arriving in Kazakhstan in the first half of 2025.
Commenting on the order, Foster remarked,
“The Boeing 787-9 is an important aircraft to Air Astana’s fleet modernization as we expand our routes and focus on passenger experience. The Dreamliner offers fuel-efficiency and range flexibility that will greatly add to our growing fleet operations.”
Replacing the Boeing 767?
Rember that the first Boeing 787-9 is due to be delivered in 2025? The timing may have some significance regarding the future of the Air Astana fleet. Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying last year, Foster remarked that the finance leases of the airline’s Boeing 767s (some of the youngest passenger examples in the world) would be essentially paid off by 2025, meaning that there would be no financial need to keep flying them.
He also remarked that operating a small fleet of Boeing 767s alongside a small fleet of 787s wouldn’t be efficient. Think of two sets of crews, mechanics, and spare parts. He suggested that Air Astana would likely sell the aircraft, but Foster hadn’t ruled out the possibility of converting them to freighters at the time.
What about the Boeing 787-8 order?
An Air Astana spokesperson told Simple Flying that the lease agreement was separate from the 787-8 order from Boeing. It’s not entirely clear what will happen to the Boeing 787-8 order in the long term, though two options seem more likely,
- The airline could cancel the orders, though it is possible that such a cancelation would involve a financial penalty.
- The airline could double its long-haul fleet, with crew, mechanics, and space parts being compatible with both aircraft.
The initial 787 order was placed in February 2012 and announced on March 1st. It accompanied an order for four 767-300ERs and was the most significant single order ever placed for commercial aircraft in the history of Kazakhstan, with a list price of $1.3 billion at the time.
What do you make of Air Astana’s Boeing 787 lease agreement? Will the 787-9 replace the 767, and perhaps even the 787-8? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!