Kazakh flag carrier Air Astana has signed a letter of intent (LoI) for the acquisition of 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

Valued at $3.6bn according to list prices, the aircraft will support the carrier’s new low-cost airline, FlyArystan, which was launched in May.

Offering between 130 and 230 seats, Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 can fly up to 7,130km.

The aircraft features CFM International LEAP-1B engine and advanced technology winglets, as well as improves fuel efficiency by 14% compared with other single-aisle aeroplanes.

With Boeing 737 MAX 8, FlyArystan will be able to expand the domestic network. It is set to start international services to Moscow from December.

Air Astana president and CEO Peter Foster said: “Since its launch in May this year, FlyArystan has exceeded all expectations and it is clear that low-cost air travel has a great future in Kazakhstan and Central Asia.

“Air Astana has had a strong relationship with Boeing ever since the airline started flying in 2002 with a pair of 737NGs. Today, we operate both 757s and 767s and we believe that the MAX will provide a solid platform for the growth of FlyArystan throughout our region, once the aircraft has successfully returned to service.”

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Air Astana started operations in May 2002. It serves several major cities in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Asia, China, Europe and Russia.

The carrier’s current fleet includes Boeing 757, 767 and Airbus A320 family.