The US Department of State announced on January 6 that it signed an Open Skies agreement with Kazakhstan on December 30 in its capital city, Nur-Sultan. The Central Asian state becomes the 127th nation with which the US has reached such an accord, although some are on a provisional basis or are applied on the basis of comity and reciprocity.

The Air Transport Agreement was signed by US Ambassador to Kazakhstan William Moser and the Kazakhstani Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Beibut Atamkulov. The agreement, which will come into force following an exchange of diplomatic notes between the two governments, includes unrestricted capacity and frequency of services, open route rights, a liberal charter regime, and open codesharing opportunities.

It is hoped that the agreement between the two nations will further expand the strong economic and commercial partnership, as well as promote people-to-people ties. It will create new opportunities for airlines and travel companies, allowing them to make commercial decisions based on market demand, and without intervention from government regulators.

There are currently no direct flights between the US and Kazakhstan.

In Central Asia, the US already has Open Skies treaties with Uzbekistan, as well as nearby Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. No US carrier currently flies to the Central Asian region, which also includes other former Soviet republics such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, although Uzbekistan Airways provides a 2x weekly connection from Tashkent Islam Karimov to New York JFK.

According to its website, Kazakh flag carrier Air Astana (KC, Nur-Sultan) currently has codeshares with the likes of Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, but no airlines from the US. It does, however, have interline agreements with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

While Air Astana operates a fleet of three B767-300(ER)s which may be capable of operating direct flights to the US, the arrival of the airline's three B787-8s from Boeing (BOE, Chicago O'Hare) could be the catalyst for the launch of its inaugural transatlantic services. However, as previously reported, Air Astana said in its FY2018 financial statements that the widebody jets will now only arrive in 2023.