Air Astana (KC, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev) is considering going public over the next two or three years president Peter Foster, has announced. The Wall Street Journal quotes Foster as saying an IPO had become a necessity given its ambitious expansion plans.

"There is an absolute consensus among the owners Air Astana should be listed," airline President Peter Foster said in London Thursday.

Majority-owned by the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna, the carrier is a joint-venture with BAe Systems (Warton) which owns the remaining 49%. On the back of growing profitability - the carrier generated a profit of USD46million last year - Air Astana has outlined plans to develop Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev into a regional and international transit hub.

With the airline's recent removal from the European Union's Banned Operator's List, the carrier announced plans for services to Paris CDG and Prague Václav Havel (complementing Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow) with plans to start Tel Aviv Ben Gurion flights next year. In tandem with its international growth, so the carrier has also moved to expand its regional Asian network with the longterm aim of becoming the dominant carrier in Central Asia.