Caspian Energy CEO: How often do Baku residents use the air service of Air Astana and what destinations do they choose?
Galymzhan Seilbayev, Country Manager Azerbaijan: Most often passengers leave Baku for Almaty as well as Astana and other regions of Kazakhstan. Though the revenues from the flights are not very high, but we stay strongly committed to keeping the current level of passenger traffic. Now we have four flights a week to Almaty and three flights to Astana. We expect the demand for flights between our countries to increase in connection with the beginning of summer season. Traditionally, in this period the Azerbaijanis living in Kazakhstan visit their relatives in Azerbaijan to spend their vacation, and vice versa, the citizens of Azerbaijan go to their loved ones in Kazakhstan.
CEO: In which direction the passenger flow is higher from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan or vice versa?
Galymzhan Seilbayev: When taking into account not only tourists, but also business traffic, the lion's share of passenger traffic is formed by the citizens of Kazakhstan. The share of the Azerbaijani citizens accounts for less than one-third of the passenger traffic.
CEO: 5-6 years ago the Azerbaijanis used to work actively in the market of Kazakhstan, while now there some kind of standstill in this area is observed. What are the reasons for that, in your opinion?
Galymzhan Seilbayev: Most likely, this happens due to the projects of companies in various fields. Probably it all depends on a number of projects as well as on how many Azerbaijani companies have won tenders implemnted in Kazakhstan.
CEO: After winning the elections in April 2015, President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared a new stage of economic reforms. What benefits do you believe the reforms may bring to your business?
Galymzhan Seilbayev: The President has recently mentioned in his speech that Air Astana is one of the leading brands in Kazakhstan, and other companies should follow our example. Our country has a great potential in terms of transit traffic between China and Europe. And in light of the new reforms, we are interested in strengthening the transport infrastructure, and executing lots of work. Lately our President has signed a decree that, among other measures, abolished the visa regime for up to 30 days for citizens of the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and the Republic of Singapore. In our view, this measure is to give a new impetus to the development of tourism and at the same time increase the investment attractiveness of Kazakhstan.
Air Astana is one of the most successful projects of Kazakhstan. We started the business with the investments totalling $8.5 million. The company was registered in 2001 and in 2002 we already undertook the first flight from Almaty to Astana. Now we offer flights to many countries.
CEO: How did you personally start working for the company?
Galymzhan Seilbayev: I was born in the city of Baikonur, Kyzylorda Region. After leaving secondary school, I entered the Kazakh University of International Relations and World Languages in Almaty. As a student I began to work in the hotel business. After graduating from the high school, I was employed by Air Astana, where I have already been working for more than 6 years.
CEO: How long have you been at the head of the company’s representation in Baku?
Galymzhan Seilbayev: Since September 2014. And I am happy to work here, because our countries have much in common, namely the origin of our people, culture, and language proximity. Our countries have close economic and political relations as well.
CEO: A 9 months stay in another country is a rather long period. How does your family endure this?
Galymzhan Seilbayev: I am not married yet. But I am happy that I have left the impression of a serious family man. Actually, I am already ready to start a family, which I hope I will have in the near future.