General Manager for bmi in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, GABOR HORVATH:
"I WOULD LOVE TO WORK HARDER TOGETHER WITH AND THE LOCAL TOURISM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES, TO MAKE KAZAKHSTAN MORE POPULAR FOR FOREIGN TOURISTS!"
Amidst not so tough competition in Kazakhstan's airlines
market, bmi earnestly focuses on improving the flying experience. Despite the
limitations that constraint the company's plans to expand its services, bmi
works on opening up new destinations within Kazakhstan and increasing its worldwide
network to make more flexible connections for Kazakh customers. The price policy
of the company and its vision of the company's future in Kazakhstan were also
among the issues covered by the Interfax-Kazakhstan interview with bmi General
Manager in Kazakhstan GABOR HORVATH.
- How long have you been cooperating with Kazakhstan? Are you
happy with the progress made so far?
- We are flying the route Almaty-London since 14 years. With the
brand bmi it is flown since 2007 (when bmi took over the previously operating
company Bmed). We are very happy with the development of the route - due this
since we are flying it with the biggest and most modern aircraft in our fleet,
with an Airbus-330.
- What passenger traffic do you plan to achieve in 2012? Where
does it stand at the moment?
- From middle of October the flights will continue from Almaty
to Amritsar in India. This at the same time means, that we will have our Kazakh
customers and also Indian guests on board and thus aim to achieve a high double-digit
percentage growth compared to 2011.
In summer months we achieved around 80% utilization of this bigger
aircraft - which we understand as a very positive response from the market to
our investment/improvement in the product.
- Are you planning to increase the flight frequency to Kazakhstan?
What is the company's flight and price policy?
- Kazakhstan is a very important market already and we foresee
a bright future for it. Thus we are evaluating opportunities to increase frequencies
and/or open up new destinations in Western-Kazakhstan in the future. Currently
certain limitations exist, which we are trying to tackle together with authorities
and Air Astana. We are hopeful to enable a higher degree of flexibility for
airlines to and from Kazakhstan.
How do you assess the current situation in Kazakhstan's airline
- Kazakhstan is the 9th biggest country, but has a relatively
low population. Because of the size and distances airlines play a vital role
in transportation matrix - at the same time the lower travel volume (due population)
require relatively high prices. Thus it is a difficult market for airlines operating
to/from Kazakhstan, but we are happy to contribute our part in the country to
develop a sustainable and growing industry.
Do you have any insights you want to share about the short-term
future of Kazakhstan's airline market?
- I foresee growth in Kazakhstan's airline market - just as I
see Kazakhstan moving forward and getting richer, thanks to its natural resources,
thanks to its open environment and the hard working people. Of course there
may be some shorter periods of recessions when we stagnate (like 2009), but
in mid-term the only way is up. More and more people want to discover the world,
more business-relations are made and more people can afford flying.
bmi and Kazakh national carrier Air Astana are both flying to
London. Do you face a tough competition?
- I don't think we are competitors with Air Astana. They have
done a tremendous job to develop the Kazakh air travel market in their only
9 years of existence. Safety standards by a Kazakh airline have never been higher,
they invest in products, markets etc. So I can see that we jointly enable more
Kazakhs to travel by plane and offer different options for them. I would love
to work harder together with Air Astana and the local tourism industry representatives,
to make Kazakhstan more popular for foreign tourists! There is just so much
to see in this country, but prices, procedures and infrastructural limitations
are currently not enabling to exploit it to full extent. It is a pity, that
people in Europe are not aware of the nature beauties like Charyn Canyon, Tien-Shan
mountains, Almaty Lake, Ili-river - I could continue for hours. So there is
more that aligns us with Air Astana, than what makes us competitors.
What exclusive services do you offer compared to your competitors?
- We invest in product features that make bmi unique. We have
individual in-seat video for passengers even in economy class, we offer our
business class travelers complimentary chauffeur drive services to/from airports,
the best lounge at Heathrow airport with showers, beds, bar etc., arrival lounge
and so on. So I believe passengers have a superb product experience on board
bmi flights at very competitive prices from and to Kazakhstan.
What steps do you take to improve the flying experience of your
- My favorite question, we have done so many things, that we are
really proud to talk about it! We started to fly with the biggest and most modern
plane in our fleet to Almaty. We upgraded our catering services on board. We
installed individual entertainment systems in both business and economy class,
so that passengers can chose from 21 channel themselves while flying to/from
Almaty (2 Russian channels as well). We have introduced chauffeur drive services
in Almaty, so our business class passengers will be driven to and from airport
for free. We have renovated our lounges at Heathrow airport - both for arriving
as well for departing passengers. So while you take a refreshing shower, your
suit will be ironed, or just have something to eat and drink, take a sleep etc.
With all these products we believe to make flying on such long route a real
experience - not just a tiring journey. The response so far is very positive
and we are delighted to greet more and more passengers on board our aircrafts.
Also we revised our price structure, so that traveling with bmi is now an option
for more Kazakh nationals.
Do you have any plans of investing in social development projects?
Is training of Kazakh pilots among them?
- bmi is a really international company, with more than 70 years
of history and more than 60 nationalities working for it. I am really proud
to say, that except of me all bmi employees in Kazakhstan are Kazakhs. Of course
with our flights we indirectly create loads of jobs in Kazakhstan - let it be
the hotel industry, catering services, travel agencies, airport, tourism etc.
Currently there are no plans to train Kazakh pilots, but we are always very
impressed to see the efforts Air Astana is taking to make Kazakhstan competitive
in this field. Who knows, probably there will come the time when Kazakh pilots
are willing to fly our airplanes from our London base.
How many destinations bmi is currently flying to? Do you have
any plans to introduce any new ones?
- bmi is flying to more than 40 destinations world wide. Currently
Almaty is the longest route from London (so even here we are unique and accordingly
proud). Middle of October we will start flights to Amritsar in India from London
- and the plane makes a stop in Almaty. Since April we are also flying to Bergen
and Stavanger in Norway, to Casablanca and Marrakech in Morocco. East-Midlands
flights will also start with winter schedule from Frankfurt - so our increasing
network makes us attractive for travellers from Kazakhstan.
How many flights in total does bmi operate?
- bmi is operating more than 240 flights every day and is transporting
close to 7 million passengers per year. So basically we can say that we welcome
as many passengers as nearly half of Kazakhstan's population every year on board
of our aircrafts. We are working hard on making it coming true one day - even
if not within one year, but when half of Kazakhstan once can say "yes,
we flew bmi and were happy flying with them".
- Thank you for the interview!
й 2011 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited
© 2018 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited