Air Astana (KC, Astana) has increased its A320neo lease portfolio following the signing of an agreement with SMBC Aviation Capital for three aircraft of the type. According to the Ireland-based lessor, the Pratt & Whitney-powered twinjets are sourced from its Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) order book and are slated for delivery in the last quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Earlier this year, the Kazakh carrier said it would grow its A320neo fleet to at least seventeen aircraft by 2020 including six A320neo, seven A321neo and four A321neoLR types. All aircraft will be acquired on an operating lease basis.

Air Astana plans to deploy the A320neo and A321neo on domestic and medium-haul routes while the A321neo(LR) has the capability of operating long-haul services from Almaty and Astana to destinations in Asia and Europe. In addition to boosting frequencies on existing routes, the aircraft will also be deployed on new services to the CIS and South Asia.

Air Astana currently operates a single A320neo and has deferred deliveries for other aircraft pending a longterm solution to Pratt & Whitney's PW1100G teething problems.