Kazakhstan airline launches Vietnam service with flights to southern hub

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Air Astana, the Kazakhstan national airline, Wednesday said it will launch its first flights to Vitenam with a route to Ho Chi Minh City this December.

There will be two flights a week from the republic's biggest city Almaty, starting December 16, Vietway Aviation Services, which promotes the airline in Vietnam, said at a press briefing.

Nguyen Anh Minh, director of Vietway, said that no final decision has been taken on the route yet, but the carrier was leaning towards a non-stop flight, which would take around seven hours, instead of having a transit stop in Bangkok, according to a Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online report.

Minh said the two weekly flights are likely to operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

He said the carrier would focus first target tourists and businesspeople travelling from Kazakhstan to Vietnam, and later market the service among tourists and job seekers in Vietnam.

"Most travelers in the beginning might be tourists from Kazakhstan. Their country has no sea, so Vietnam's beautiful beaches will be attractive," Minh said.

Air Astana, which launched its first flight in 2002, was established in 2001 as a joint venture between Kazakhstan government, with a 51 percent of stake, and the UK-based aerospace company BAE Systems PLC.

It currently flies 56 domestic and international routes, offering free travel to children under two years old and half price for children between 2-12 years old.

It received a four-star ranking in May this year from the world's leading airline and airport review site Skytrax.

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