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Airlines of Central Asia: SCAT Airlines

Scat Airlines Plane

A little while ago I wrote a blog about the flag carriers of Central Asia and upon a colleague reading it, he decided to look at other airlines in the region. Pretty quickly, as the name jumped to his eyes, he was telling me I needed to write this blog. So here we are, with me writing a blog about SCAT Airlines.

Yes, there is an airline called SCAT and the reason you’re laughing is the exact same reason as why I’m writing this blog. You’re probably thinking “who names an airline after an unwanted bodily function?”. Some of our more cultured readers might be thinking about the jazz connection, the popular style of jazz made famous by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, and many more of jazz’s legendary vocalists. However, I suspect that two bright eyed young gentlemen from Kazakhstan with an entrepreneurial spirit genuinely didn’t know the other connotations that come with the word scat. That being said, the good young burghers of Kazakhstan today definitely see the humour in the name of their second largest airline.

So now it’s time to actually inform you of what SCAT stands for. SCAT is an acronym for Strategic Cargo Air Services. As many of you would be aware, Aeroflot was broken up into each individual new republic’s own national airline. Something that less of you will know is that they also broke Aeroflot up into smaller regional divisions. There were 28 divisions in Kazakhstan alone and one such division was the Shymkent division of Aeroflot. Angry that they weren’t receiving any salary and were essentially sitting around doing nothing, the airline was founded in 1997 by a group of pilots and other airline staff.

Since then SCAT has gone on to become Kazakhstan’s second biggest airline and is really the only cheap option to fly domestically inside Kazakhstan. Although this is likely to change as Air Astana has launched its own low cost-carrier – Air Arystan.

SCAT Airlines have their main hub and corporate headquarters in Shymkent, a medium sized city in the very south of Kazakhstan near the Uzbek border. This is probably one of the ways they’ve been able to keep their costs down as Shymkent is definitely a much cheaper city than the nation’s financial hub – Almaty, or the capital – Nur Sultan (formerly Astana, before that Akmola, before than Tselinograd, before that Akmolinsk, etc).

Scat Airlines has not always had the best safety record and until 2018 was banned from flying to the EU. That being said, they haven’t had a fatality since 2013 and if you’re willing to take a slight gamble they are usually considerably cheaper than their rivals.

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