ASTANA, March 23
Four new foreign aircraft � two Airbus A-310s and two Boeing-737s have been purchased by the national airline �Air Kazakhstan� under "typical international conditions for the supply of this type of plane."
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Serik Burkitbaev, announced the deal on Thursday in Astana in response to criticisms that the aircraft had been bought on �crushing terms�.
The minister underlined the fact that Airbus A�310s had been bought on a financial leasing basis under governmental guarantees.
�If these conditions are worse than the standard ones which govern all other loans, then I am ready to answer for that,� Mr. Burkitbaev stated.
According to the minister, a new Boeing-737 today costs about US$30 million, and a new Airbus-310 � about US$70 million.
Two old Airbuses had been purchased in US dollars, in 17.5% instalments over 8 years, Burkitbaev said.
�We have no way forward except evolution, i.e. to buy old planes, to learn how to fly on them and then to develop gradually,� Mr. Burkitbaev emphasised.
The above-mentioned planes were have been purchased by Air Kazakhstan before (two Airbuses-310 in 1999). At present they are included as part of the air holding Air Kazakhstan Group established in December 1999 on the premises of Air Kazakhstan.
S. Burkitbaev also said that today an interdepartmental commission had been established with participation of force structures and that the Finance Ministry was entitled to investigate allegations, made by the Air Kazakhstan Group, that the Air Kazakhstan administration had destroyed a large number of financial documents.
The Air Kazakhstan Group is now headed by Alexander Krinichansky. The Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev has already announced to Parliament that the country's law-enforcement agencies could investigate the activities of the company's former administration.
At a press conference the minister said that as a result of current negotiations with Russian companies �Aeroflot� and �Transaero�, �Aeroflot� can now make transit flights between Kazakhstan and Sheremetyevo-2 then offering further flights to Europe and other countries. This summer and autumn �Transaero�, along with the Air Kazakhstan Group will focus on passenger flights between Kazakhstan and Russian cities.
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