Updated on 20.08.2018, 18:59 (AST)

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 market?

- 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 customers?

- 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!

October 2011
й 2011 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited



October, 2011
© 2018 Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
Copying and use of these materials without reference to the source is prohibited


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