Kazakhstan is planning to gradually resume flights with seven countries starting from mid-August, including some holiday hot spots, the country’s Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development has said.
In a statement published on the ministry’s Telegram channel on Wednesday, it said the flights that would resume starting from August 17 included those to the United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Germany, Netherlands, Egypt, Ukraine and Russia.
The government of Kazakhstan has already reached preliminary agreements for reciprocal flights with these countries.
“These countries support flights resumption with Kazakhstan in line with sanitary and epidemiological requirements, such as thermometry, social distancing, mask wearing and PCR testing,” the ministry revealed.
Russia has yet to give permission to resume flights there, the statement added.
The number of flights on international routes will be operated based on existing intergovernmental agreements and depending on the commercial load of the aircraft on each route. Tickets for these flights will go on sale in accordance with the schedule published on airline websites.
Central Asia’s largest country sealed off its borders on March 16, in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, while its national air carrier Air Astana canceled all of its international flights from March 29. Domestic flights resumed on May 25 to all regions, in accordance with the government decision.
Initially, Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Committee said it would gradually resume flights to Turkey, China, South Korea, Thailand, Georgia and Japan from June 20. However, due to the “problematic situation” with the novel coronavirus outbreak in Kazakhstan, flights only resumed to South Korea and Turkey.
On June 21, the first flight from Almaty arrived in Turkey's biggest sea resort, Antalya. However, upon arrival, four Kazakh citizens were hospitalized after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The remaining passengers were required to isolate at local clinics and hotels.
On July 3, the government of Turkey suspended flights to Kazakhstan for a period of two weeks after authorities in Nur-Sultan announced a second lockdown due to a rapid increase in coronavirus cases. On August 7, Turkey’s embassy again announced the suspension of passenger air travel between some countries, including Kazakhstan and Turkey, in response to coronavirus outbreaks.
“The issue of resuming flights will be considered by the relevant authorities given the course of the pandemic and sanitary and epidemiological situation in these countries in the coming period,” according to the statement published to the embassy’s Twitter account.
The number of coronavirus cases in Kazakhstan has risen to 101,372, according to an interactive map from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. As of today, 1,269 coronavirus-related fatalities and 76,756 recoveries have been recorded, according to media reports.
According to government data, Kazakhstan’s reproduction number or Rt – the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to – decreased significantly from 1.15 to 0.82 over the previous five weeks. An epidemic is considered to be under control when the Rt value remains below 1 consistently.
On August 12, the Kazakh government announced that it could gradually ease the latest lockdown measures, which were imposed to contain the virus spread.
“The softening should be carried out with strict observance of mask wearing and hygiene requirements in public places,” said Alexey Tsoi, who heads the country’s health ministry.