Air Astana (KC, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev) is planning to retire its five E190-E2s in 2024-2025 as it expects to exit the regional jet market, Chief Executive Peter Foster told aviation journalist Kurt Hofmann.

The airline added its first E190-E2 in 2018, with the other four following in 2019, all of them on lease from Azorra Aviation. It remains the second-largest operator of the variant globally behind Helvetic Airways (2L, Zurich). They are used exclusively on domestic services out of Almaty International and Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Air Astana operated up to nine E190s between 2011 and 2020, the ch-aviation fleets history module shows. It does not have any other regional aircraft in its fleet or on order.

Foster also said that the airline was evaluating adding an additional centre tank (ACT) to its A321-200NX(LR)s. The carrier currently employs ten aircraft of the type, including on long-haul routes from Almaty to London Heathrow (via Aktau), Antalya, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Bodrum Milas, Istanbul Airport, Irakleion, Phuket, and Podgorica, and from Atyrau to Amsterdam Schiphol. The variant has allowed Air Astana to expand its network despite a limited fleet of just three widebody B767-300ERs, but Foster said a third ACT would allow the airline to deploy the A321neo to destinations such as Tokyo or Paris.

"By adding a third ACT to the A321LR, we hope to achieve a full payload range increase of 300 to 350 additional nautical miles, which would be helpful. We operate the LR close to maximum range on several routes," Foster said.

The decision on the ACT would be taken soon, Foster confirmed.

He added that the airline was studying the A321-200NY(XLR), "subject to final certification and payload range confirmation".

Foster admitted that the airline was affected by the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine issues.

"The PW1100G issue has become a sort of chronic illness with which we have had to learn to live. We presently have two long-term AOGs [both A320-200Ns], which is an improvement. However, reliability issues persist," he explained.

Besides the ten A321neo(LR)s, Air Astana also operates four A321-200Ns and eleven A320-200Ns (with eight more on order from lessors), according to the ch-aviation fleets module.